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Why Slug Bait is Poisonous to Cats and Dogs, Plus 9 Slug Control Options

Slow-moving, slimy slugs are everywhere this time of year. These shell-less gastropod mollusks munch on leaves, flowers, and plants, leaving behind a trail of destruction.  They can also infect pets that eat them with lung worms.

The Dangers of Slug Bait to Pets | AtlanticVetSeattle.com


While slug bait seems like a quick fix, it can be extremely dangerous to dogs and cats. That’s because the bait includes brown sugar or molasses to attract slugs. The sweet smell and colorful pellets entice curious pets, leading to accidental ingestion.

Even a small amount of slug bait – less than a teaspoon – can be fatal.  

In addition to brown sugar or molasses, slug bait (which comes in pellet, liquid, or powder form) typically contains a chemical called metaldehyde, a highly toxic compound for dogs and cats. Metaldehyde acts as a neurotoxin, disrupting a pet’s nervous system functions.

Symptoms of Metaldehyde Poisoning

Be aware of the following signs of metaldehyde poisoning, which can occur within 30 minutes to 3 hours after ingestion:

  • Anxiety
  • Panting
  • Twitching
  • Muscle tremors
  • High fever
  • Hypersalivation (drooling)
  • Ataxia (lack of coordination)
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Convulsions / Seizures

Immediate Action is Crucial!

If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your veterinarian or animal poison control center right away. The earlier treatment begins, the better your pet’s chances of a full recovery.

9 Safer Alternatives for Slug Control

Luckily, there are several pet-safe alternatives to slug bait that can keep your garden healthy and your furry companions safe.

Here are 9 effective methods:

1. Natural barriers

Create a physical barrier around your plants using crushed eggshells or coffee grounds. These materials irritate the slugs’ soft bodies, deterring them from your greenery.

2. Diatomaceous earth

This natural powder is made from fossilized algae and it dehydrates slugs and snails on contact. Apply a thin layer around plants, but be sure to reapply after rain.

3. Copper barriers

Slugs dislike the sensation of moving across copper. Placing copper tape around raised beds or containers can deter them from climbing up.

4. Beer or milk traps

Dig a shallow container level with the soil and fill it with beer or milk. Slugs are drawn to the scent and drown in the liquid. Empty and reset the trap every few days. This method can also be attractive to other animals, so use caution.

5. Cornmeal traps

Cornmeal is cheaper than beer or milk, but may not attract as many slugs. Put 1-2 Tablespoons of cornmeal in a jar and lay it on its side. Keep the cornmeal dry, and it will kill slugs by expanding inside them.

Note: Rain will ruin liquid and cornmeal traps, so cover the traps to keep water out. If your pets will drink or eat the bait, cover the traps with something sturdy, such as an upside-down flowerpot with a small entrance.

6. Nematodes

These microscopic parasitic worms are natural predators of slugs. When applied to the soil nematodes hunt down the slugs, effectively controlling the population.

7. Natural predators

Birds (chickens, ducks robins, jays), hedgehogs, toads, and ground beetles love to feast on slugs. Create a wildlife-friendly garden to attract these helpful creatures.

8. Humane traps

Slugs gather in moist, shady environments. They like to hide beneath flower pots, wooden planks, or cardboard boxes. Set these up and attract slugs with dry pet food, cabbage leaves, or citrus fruit rinds, moistened with water. Check traps daily and discard the living slugs a long way from your house and garden.

9. Handpicking

Handpicking slugs at night and relocating them elsewhere (far from your garden) can be effective for small infestations. A less humane option is to skewer slugs with a stick and drop them into a bucket of soapy water. Be sure to wear disposable gloves when hunting slugs.

You’ll find additional ideas for getting rid of slugs in this article at wikiHow.

By opting for these safer alternatives, you can protect your plants and furry friends from the dangers of slug bait. A healthy garden doesn’t have to come at the cost of your pet’s well-being.

A Guide to Taking Your Cat on Outdoor Adventures

Some cats are satisfied watching the world go by as they lounge on a windowsill. But don’t be surprised if an adventurous spirit lies beneath that calm exterior.

A History of Adventure Cats

The spirit of the adventure cat stretches back centuries. Felis catus, the domestic cat’s wild ancestor, originated in the Middle East around 10,000 years ago. These agile hunters were natural explorers, roaming vast territories in search of prey.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, European sailors considered cats lucky companions. Ship cats patrolled the decks, controlling the rodent population and ensuring safe food stores during long voyages.

In the 20th century, Hemingway’s polydactyl cat, Snowball, was known for his adventurous spirit, often accompanying the writer on fishing trips.

Today, the internet overflows with images and stories of felines exploring national parks, scaling mountains, and paddling serene lakes alongside their humans.

Taking Your Cat on an Adventure: What You Need to Know

It’s crucial to assess your cat’s suitability for adventuring. Here are two key considerations:

1. Temperament: Look for signs of curiosity, confidence, and a willingness to adapt to new environments.

2. Age: A young, outgoing, energetic cat is a better candidate for adventure than a timid senior. Consider starting the process with an adventurous kitten of about 12-14 weeks of age, when their curiosity is in high gear.

Preparation and Training

Veterinary Checkup:
 Before embarking on any adventure, ensure your cat is:

  • Healthy
  • Microchipped (in case they get lost)
  • Up-to-date on vaccinations and parasite preventives. Tell your veterinarian where your cat will be traveling, so our vet can help you prepare for health risks, diseases, and parasites inherent to that area.
  • Apprise your vet of your cat’s travel history in case a health concern crops up later that you might be able to attribute to something your cat was exposed to while adventuring.

Harness and Leash Training: Get your cat accustomed to a harness and leash from a young age. Positive reinforcement training with treats is key. Leash training will allow you to control your cat’s movements and keep them safe in unfamiliar environments.

Safety First: Always prioritize your cat’s safety. Use a breakaway leash to prevent choking and ensure all carriers and backpacks are escape-proof.

Gradual Introduction: Don’t overwhelm your cat. Start with short, positive experiences in familiar, quiet areas. Gradually increase distance and complexity as your cat becomes comfortable.

Respect Your Cat’s Limits: Even the most adventurous cat can become overwhelmed. Pay attention to your cat’s body language. If they seem distressed or scared, it’s time to end the adventure.

Exploring the Great Outdoors with Your Cat

In this section, we’ll give you tips for specific adventures you can share with your cat, including:

  • hiking and camping
  • cycling
  • skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing
  • boating, paddleboarding, and kayaking


  • Prioritize kitty’s comfort: Choose short, well-maintained trails and focus on your cat’s comfort.
  • Harness train: Use a secure harness and leash and keep an eye out for wildlife encounters.
  • Proper gear: Invest in a cat backpack, which allows for hands-free carrying on short hikes.


Camping offers a fantastic opportunity to bond with your cat in nature. Here’s how to ensure your feline friend has a comfortable and safe camping trip:

  • Cat-proof your campsite: Choose a secluded spot away from barking dogs, loud noises, high foot traffic, and potential dangers such as wild animals or campfires.
    • If you’re tent camping, use a tent with a mesh door for ventilation and to allow your cat to safely observe their surroundings.
    • Surround your tent with a cat playpen or a secure enclosure made of mesh to allow fresh air and outdoor exploration.
  • Gear up: Invest in a comfortable cat carrier for transportation and shelter; a lightweight, secure harness and leash; a collapsible food and water bowl; a cat-specific sleeping bag or mat, and a litter box with litter.
  • Creature comforts: Bring familiar items from home, such as your cat’s favorite bed, toys, and a scratching post. Provide plenty of fresh water and their usual food.
  • Respect your cat’s limits: Not all cats will enjoy camping. Be mindful of their stress levels and allow them to retreat to their enclosure if needed.

Pro Tip: Before your trip, practice setting up your cat’s enclosure and introducing them to their harness and leash.


Cycling with your cat might seem unconventional, but with proper preparation, it can be a fun experience.

  • Cat trailer: Invest in a secure and comfortable cat trailer, cat carrier, or a specially designed basket that attaches to your bike.
  • Harness train: Ensure your cat is comfortable wearing a harness and leash before attempting any cycling adventures.
  • Start slow: Begin with short rides on quiet paths with minimal traffic. Gradually increase distance and duration as your cat becomes comfortable with riding.
  • Hydrate: Bring plenty of water and a portable water bowl to keep your cat hydrated during the ride.

Remember: This activity is best suited for young, social cats that are comfortable with new experiences.

Skiing, Snowboarding, and Snowshoeing

While not for the faint of heart (or the easily startled feline), some cats enjoy accompanying their humans on ski trips.

Before heading out, make sure the weather conditions are mild and opt for gentle slopes.

  • Breed selection: Snow adventures are best suited for very social and outgoing cats that are comfortable with new experiences. Siberian Forest Cats and Norwegian Forest Cats are known for their tolerance of cold weather.
  • Proper gear: Invest in a specially designed insulated cat suit and backpack to protect your cat from the elements. Avoid letting them walk on snow for extended periods.
  • Gradual introduction: If you’re taking your cat downhill skiing, start by letting your cat experience the sights and sounds of the ski resort from a safe distance before attempting any slopes.
  • Focus on fun: Short, positive experiences are key. Prioritize playtime in the snow over ambitious ski runs.


Not all cats are water lovers. Observe their behavior around water sources at home. If they seem fearful or stressed, water sports won’t be the best activity.

Prioritize comfort and safety. Choose gear that is appropriate for the activity and the weather conditions.

Always supervise your cat while on the water. Don’t leave them unattended for a single moment.


If you’re taking your cat on a boat trip, ensure they have a secure harness and a designated, comfortable space to stay in. Never leave them unattended on deck.


For water-loving cats, short paddleboarding excursions on calm waters can be thrilling.

  • Choose the right board: A large, stable board is ideal.
  • Prioritize security: Invest in a life jacket designed for cats, a non-slip cat pad to go on the paddleboard, and a secure harness attached to the board.
  • Gradual acclimation: Let your cat get comfortable with the paddleboard on land before venturing into the water.
  • Freshwater is best: Opt for calmer, freshwater environments to avoid strong currents or unpredictable waves.
  • Keep it short: Start with short paddles in quiet areas and pay close attention to your cat’s stress levels.

Pro Tip: Bring along some of your cat’s favorite toys to keep them entertained on the board (be prepared for kitty to bat the toys into the water).


Kayaking can be a fantastic way to explore nature with your feline friend. Choose a calm day with flat water for your initial kayaking adventures. Avoid strong currents, choppy waves, and windy conditions.

If possible, launch from a familiar location where your cat has spent time before. This can help reduce stress levels.

  • Gradual introduction: Before hitting the water, familiarize your cat with the kayak on land. Let them explore it at their own pace, rewarding them with treats for positive interactions.
  • Harness training: A secure harness and leash are vital for safety. Train your cat to wear a harness comfortably before attempting any water activities.
  • Life is a float: Invest in a cat-specific life jacket that fits snugly but allows for movement. Most cat life jackets look like vests with bright colors for easy visibility. Once your cat is comfortable with the harness and life jacket, practice getting in and out of the kayak on land using a ramp or low platform.
  • Leash security: Attach the leash to the life jacket – not the harness – to prevent them from slipping out. Keep the leash short to avoid tangles but long enough for some movement.
  • Cat carrier on board: Having a secure cat carrier on board provides a safe haven for your cat if they become overwhelmed.
  • Shady spot: Set up a shaded area within the kayak using a towel or a small canopy. Cats can overheat easily, so provide a cool escape from the sun.
  • Start short: Keep your first kayaking trip short and sweet. Pay close attention to your cat’s body language and be prepared to head back to shore if they seem anxious.

10 Tips for Keeping Your Cat Safe on Adventures

An essential part of any adventure is ensuring your cat is comfortable and safe. Here’s a checklist:

1. Hydration: Bring plenty of fresh water and portable, spill-proof water and food bowls. Encourage your cat to drink frequently, especially during hot weather.

2. Food and treats: Bring your cat’s food and favorite treats.

3. Weather: Avoid extremes in temperature. Cats can overheat or get frostbite easily. Plan your adventure for comfortable weather conditions.

4. Shade and shelter: Cats are susceptible to sunburn, especially on their ears and nose. Apply pet-safe sunscreen and provide shaded and sheltered areas for them to rest.

5. Paw protection: Rough terrain can be uncomfortable or injure your cat’s paws. Consider booties designed for outdoor wear, or stick to smoother paths.

6. Harness and Leash: A comfortable, escape-proof harness and leash are crucial for controlled exploration.

7. Cat carrier/backpack: A sturdy carrier or backpack specifically designed for cats is a must for transportation and creating a safe haven.

8. Unfamiliar encounters: Be aware of potential dangers like wildlife, insects, or curious dogs. Keep your cat leashed or contained in unfamiliar environments.

9. First-aid kit: Pack a basic pet first-aid kit in case of minor injuries. See our article, Basics for Your Pet’s First-Aid Kit

10. Waste bags: Always clean up after your cat, leaving no trace in the environment.

Exploring the World, Together

Taking your cat on adventures can be an enriching and rewarding experience.

The key is to choose activities that suit your cat’s personality and comfort level. Always prioritize kitty’s safety and well-being, and be prepared to adjust plans based on their cues.


Have you adventured with your cat? Tell us about it and share your own tips in the comments!

12 Tactics to Help Your Pet Have a Fear-Free Veterinary Visit

By Hannah Feinsilber
Intern at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

It’s not a surprise that some dogs and cats dislike vet visits. The different sounds and smells, as well as getting poked and prodded, can upset their routine of playing, sleeping, and eating.

12 Tactics to Help Your Pet Have a Fear-Free Veterinary Visit | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Our Pets Are Just Like Us

The way some humans think about dental visits – or even yearly doctor check-ups – is similar to the way some pets think about vet visits: uncomfortable, stressful, but unquestionably necessary. Pet owners know that annual checkups and vaccinations are crucial to their pet’s long-term health, yet some dread the anxiety-laden trip that comes with it.

According to The American Veterinary Medical Association:

“Thirty-eight percent of dogs and 58 percent of cats are fearful of vet visits, even more fearful than kids are of going to the dentist. Even 38 percent of cat owners and 26 percent of dog owners are stressed just thinking about it.”

Twenty-eight percent of cat owners and 22 percent of dog owners would visit the veterinarian more frequently if it wasn’t so stressful for the owner and/or the pet.

Fear Free Takes the “Pet” Out of “Petrified”

Fear Free is an organization that helps alleviate fear, anxiety, and stress in pets by inspiring and educating the people who care for them. Fear Free provides online and in-person education to pet owners, veterinary professionals, and the pet professional community. There is so much YOU can do to help your pet(s) have the safest and most productive vet visit EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

Why You Should Care

Veterinarians and pet owners take the physical health of pets very seriously, yet the pet’s mental health is sometimes overlooked. Reducing anxiety, stress, and fear in cats and dogs will significantly reduce their sensitivity to pain, and create a safer and more productive visit for everyone involved.

Fear vs. Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are two different problems, and can be often reduced in quick and easy ways. Fear is the instinctual feeling of apprehension resulting from a situation, person, or object presenting an external threat – whether real or perceived. Anxiety is the anticipation of future dangers from unknown or imagined origins that result in physiologic reactions.

Be Educated in Fear Free Practices

In order to provide pets with long, happy, healthy lives, regular visits to your veterinarian for both preventive and acute care are crucial. By becoming educated in Fear Free techniques, you can help to brighten and enrich your pet’s life to the fullest.

Veterinary visits are a crucial part of Fear Free Happy Homes. Reducing the anxiety, fear, stress, and pain sensitivity for the pets we care about will create a more productive and safe environment for everybody involved – pets, pet owners, and veterinary professionals.

Here are 12 easy steps you can take that will make a huge difference in the long-term health of your pet:

For Cats

12 Tactics to Help Your Pet Have a Fear-Free Veterinary Visit | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Be Prepared

Do not wait until the day of or the day before to prepare for your cat’s visit.

After working on creating positive associations with various predictable aspects of the vet visit, like getting in the crate, riding in the car, and being handled by new people, if your cat still seems anxious about the visit, talk to your vet about other methods for soothing them.

For example, pheromones, supplements, or medications may help to manage your cat’s fear, anxiety, and stress. Additionally, before you take your cat to the vet, work with your veterinary team to discuss your cat’s emotional health during their visit, and patterns you have observed at home. Little changes, such as waiting in your temperature-controlled car until an exam room is ready, can make a huge impact on your cat’s mental health and reduce their anxiety and stress levels.

Create a Safe Carrier

Get your cat accustomed to being comfortable in her carrier.

If the only time your cat gets in her carrier is when going to the vet, chances are she will fear and reject it. Instead, try creating a link between the carrier and safe and happy feelings by incorporating her carrier into her daily life.

Use the carrier as a place for your cat to sleep or eat, as well as rewarding her with treats once inside.

Additionally, try leaving her carrier open throughout the day, incorporating it into playtime with feline friends.

Provide a Comfortable and Safe Car Ride

Try spraying Feliway® (a pheromone that has a calming effect on cats) in your car’s interior 30-60 minutes before you will leave for the vet visit. This spray will reduce your cat’s anxiety and stress, making kitty more calm once he heads in for his appointment.

During the drive, try to avoid sudden braking, stopping, acceleration, or sharp and fast turns.

Tuning the radio to a soothing channel like classical music can also calm your cat, causing a more relaxed visit.

Finally, once you arrive at the vet, make sure you have brought a blanket or large towel to cover the carrier to reduce visual stimulation of seeing other pets.

Manage the Waiting Room

Some veterinary waiting rooms can be a scary place for your cat, especially when shared with other anxious, loud, and unhappy pets who aren’t thrilled to be there either. In an ideal world, your cat should be able to be moved to the exam room right upon arrival; ask the front desk whether this is possible.

To make the waiting room experience more tolerable, try positioning the carrier so that it faces the back of a wall, chair, or couch.

Additionally, cover the carrier with a towel and stay with your kitty – reassure by talking to them and letting them smell your fingers. If possible, seek out a place to sit that is animal-free.

Timing is also very important, too. Be on time. Do not arrive too early, and do not arrive late. Waiting a long time for the vet can cause a buildup of stress, anxiety, and fear that will not make the vet visit as easy and productive as it could be.

Consider Anti-Anxiety Medications

If your cat still has an anxious mind, your vet can prescribe or suggest prescription medication or over-the-counter remedies that can help take the edge off during the vet visit. Talk to your vet for specific recommendations.

Implement Regular “Happy Visits”

Cat’s visits to the vet shouldn’t just be limited to when they are hurt, sick, or need vaccinations.

The more familiar they become with the environment of the vet, the more comfortable they will feel going to the vet.

Even just popping in occasionally for a reward of treats and a friendly hello from the veterinary staff can make your cat feel more safe and relaxed at the vet.

For Dogs:

12 Tactics to Help Your Pet Have a Fear-Free Veterinary Visit | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Bring Toys

Does your dog get stressed out by unfamiliar or presumed unsafe environments? Like the cartoon character Linus’s famous blanket, some dogs benefit from bringing their favorite toy to provide a familiar scent and a dose of comfort at the vet’s office.

Implement “Happy Visits”
Taking your dog to the vet clinic even if they do not have a scheduled appointment can make them less fearful, stressed, and more comfortable with the veterinary environment. Many veterinary clinics encourage “happy visits” where the staff will pet your dog and feed him treats. As a result, this can make your dog feel more relaxed at their vet visits.

Arrive Hungry

You may be thinking, “Why would I ever want my dog to be hungry?” Arriving at the vet visit with a hungry dog can encourage them to take treats for good behavior, which has been scientifically shown to decrease anxiety, fear, and stress.

Bring their favorite treats from home if you are not sure if they are going to like the vet treats.

Take Joy Rides

Does your dog associate car rides with going to the vet? If yes, after they are finished with their visit, take your dog on a car ride that ends with a treat or a stroll in the park. As a result, your dog will not associate the car with only vet appointments.

Medications from your vet to treat car-sickness for your pet is also a great option, and is highly advised if applicable. Additionally, it is unsafe for your dog to be in the front seat of the car due to possible inflation of airbags, so put them in the back for optimal safety.

Create a Safe Crate

Crates can be a scary place for some dogs, increasing their anxiety, stress, and fear levels when placed inside of it before the appointment. Try to avoid taking out the crate only when going to the vet. Alternatively, at home, leave it out as a safe place for your dog to sleep or eat in, instead of an unsafe/negative environment.

Most veterinarians recommend crate training when your dog is a puppy as well to make this process easier. As a result, your dog will hopefully go inside when you need them to, will not associate the crate with only going to the vet, and will feel safe and secure.

Make a Difference

Reading body language for detailed cues, playing specific music, and providing short-acting anti-anxiety medication are just three examples of the many ways to reduce anxiety, stress, and fear in the pets we love.

The emotional and physical health of the ones we care the most about is the #1 priority, and each of us can play a vital role in in helping vet visits become Fear Free.

15 Common Household Items That Can Kill Your Curious Cat

You’ve heard the phrase, “curiosity killed the cat.”

That can be true when it comes to accidental poisoning caused when curious kitties get into stuff you typically have around the house, such as laundry detergent, soda pop, or cut flowers.

While some household items may only cause mild stomach upset, others can be fatal. Your best line of defense is to cat-proof your house, removing poisons dangerous to cats (or at least, keeping them completely out of your cat’s reach).

In this article, we’ll introduce you to 15 common items that are toxic for cats. We’ll explain what to do if your cat ingests something poisonous, and give you six tips for keeping toxic substances away from your kitty.

15 Common Household Items That Can Kill Your Curious Cat | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

15 Common Feline Poisons

1. Poisonous plants

Cats love munching on greenery and bouquets of flowers. But some common plants, such as tulips, daffodils, lilies, philodendrons, Dieffenbachia, foxglove, and Japanese yew, are very dangerous for cats.

Two of our readers shared their sad personal experiences with lilies, which are particularly toxic.

One wrote:

“My husband gave me some beautiful orange lilies for my birthday and, as much as I tried to keep our three-week-old kitten away from them, she managed to get to them. She was diagnosed with acute kidney failure and we had to put her to sleep. We are devastated, feeling guilty because we should’ve researched more about what is harmful for cats… Those flowers need to have a warning saying that they can kill your cat.”

Only one bite of the petals or leaves can kill a cat! Even licking the pollen or lapping up water from the vase can result in severe, potentially irreversible acute kidney failure.

Another reader shared, “An innocent-looking day lily shut down my cat’s kidneys with only one bite.”

This reader advised, “Check your home, yard, neighbor’s yard – everywhere you can think of for any kind of lily.”

The following varieties of lilies are poisonous to cats:

  • Tiger lilies
  • Day lilies
  • Asiatic hybrid lilies
  • Japanese show lilies
  • Easter lilies
  • Rubrum lilies
  • Stargazer lilies
  • Red lilies
  • Western lilies
  • Wood lilies

2. Laundry detergent, drain cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner, and other household cleaners

One of our readers lost their 5-month-old kitten, who consumed laundry detergent and died from epilepsy.

When ingested by a cat, some household cleaning products can cause profuse drooling, chemical burns, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, difficulty breathing, and even death.

Keep your cat out of the room while you’re scrubbing toilets or doing laundry. And be sure to keep all household cleaners and pesticides out of reach of cats.

3. Clothes Dryers

One of our readers warned that clothes dryers, while not poisonous, can be dangerous to cats. This reader lost their sweet 5-month-old kitten to the dryer.

4. Human antidepressants

Human antidepressants are like catnip to cats. They love the smell of common antidepressants such as Effexor, Prozac, Cymbalta, and Zoloft and can’t resist eating the pill.

However, instead of improving their mood and energy level, human antidepressants can cause lethargy, tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperthermia in cats.

5. Alcohol

Even small amounts of this depressant can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drowsiness, and loss of coordination in cats. In severe cases, alcohol poisoning can lead to respiratory depression, coma, and death.

6. Caffeinated drinks

The caffeine in drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased heart rate, and restlessness in cats. In severe cases, caffeine poisoning can lead to seizures, coma, and death.

7. Flea and tick topical medications for dogs

Never apply an insecticide intended for dogs (even small dogs) to your cat. These medications often contain high concentrations of a chemical derived from the Chrysanthemum flower – a chemical that is highly toxic to cats. Don’t allow your cat to lick the medication off your dog, either.

8. Over-the-counter aspirin, baby aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen

If your cat is experiencing joint pain, giving him even half a pill can be fatal, resulting in stomach ulcers and kidney failure. Consult your veterinarian before giving your cat any over-the-counter medications for pain.

9. Onions, Garlic, Chives

The gastrointestinal irritation humans feel when indulging in copious amounts of onions, garlic, or chives is compounded in cats. The sulfur compounds in onions and garlic can damage red blood cells in cats, leading to anemia.

Symptoms of onion or garlic poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, pale gums, and decreased activity. In severe cases, onion or garlic poisoning can be fatal.

10. Chocolate

Chocolate contains a substance called theobromine, which is toxic to cats. The amount of theobromine that is toxic varies, depending on the size of the cat and the type of chocolate.

In general, dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate – even a small amount of dark chocolate can be harmful to a cat. Small cats are more sensitive to chocolate than large cats.

Symptoms of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, increased urination, muscle tremors, seizures, and even death.

11. Raisins and Grapes

Grapes and raisins are another popular human food toxic to cats. Although the toxic substance within grapes and raisins is unknown, even a small amount of grapes or raisins can cause kidney failure.

Symptoms of grape or raisin poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of appetite, and increased thirst. In severe cases, grape or raisin poisoning can be fatal.

12. Macadamia nuts

Macadamia nuts are a delicious treat for humans, but they can be toxic to cats.

Symptoms of macadamia nut poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, and hyperthermia. In severe cases, macadamia nut poisoning can be fatal.

13. Raw yeast dough

Raw yeast dough contains a substance called ethanol, which is a type of alcohol. Ethanol can be toxic to cats, and even a small amount can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In severe cases, raw yeast dough poisoning can lead to alcohol poisoning and death.

14. Raw or undercooked meat

Raw or undercooked meat can contain harmful bacteria, such as salmonella and E. coli, that can make cats sick.

Symptoms of food poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and lethargy. In severe cases, food poisoning can lead to dehydration, shock, and death.

15. Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar substitute that is often used in sugar-free gum, candy, and baked goods. It is also found in some toothpastes and mouthwashes.

Xylitol is toxic to cats because it causes a rapid release of insulin, which can lead to liver failure.

Symptoms of xylitol poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, loss of coordination, and seizures. In severe cases, xylitol poisoning can be fatal.

What to do if you think your cat was poisoned

If you think your cat has ingested or been exposed to a toxic substance, call your veterinarian immediately. Do not induce vomiting unless your veterinarian tells you to do so. The sooner your cat receives treatment, the better the chances of a full recovery.

You can also all the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Hotline: (888) 426-4435 (fee-based). For info, visit https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control

Or call the Pet Poison Helpline (fee-based). For info, visit https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/

6 ways to prevent your cat from ingesting toxic substances

There are six things you can do to keep your cat safe:

  1. Keep all toxic items out of reach of your cat. This means putting them up high where your cat cannot reach them, or locking them in a cabinet or drawer that your cat cannot open.
  2. Label all toxic items with a warning label. This will help to remind you and other members of your household to keep them out of reach of your cat.
  3. Teach your children not to give your cat any food or drinks that are not specifically designed for cats.
  4. Keep your cat’s food and water bowls away from any potential sources of contamination, such as cleaning supplies or pesticides.
  5. If you are using any type of pesticide, make sure to read the label carefully and follow the directions exactly.
  6. If you are unsure whether or not something is toxic to your cat, it is always best to err on the side of caution and keep it out of reach.

Want Pet Food, Flea Preventives, & Medications Delivered to Your Home?

Life is busy! And Seattle traffic is no joke.

Would you prefer the convenience of home delivery of your pet’s heartworm medications and other medications, flea preventive, or prescription food, instead of picking them up at our office?

Pet Food, Flea Preventives, & Medications Delivered to Your Home | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Online Pharmacy and Pet Grocery

Our online pharmacy and pet grocery makes it easy to have what you need delivered right to your front door. And unlike other online pet suppliers, choosing this option helps keep your dollars in our local economy.

Additionally, pet food and medication guarantees are only honored by their manufacturers when products are purchased through a veterinary clinic.

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Basics for Your Pet’s First-Aid Kit

Basics for Your Pet’s First-Aid Kit | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

We’ve all experienced accidents. Injuries. Sudden illness. Poisoning. Natural disasters. These things happen to our pets, too, so it’s important to have both human and pet-specific first-aid supplies on hand.

We recommend putting together two pet first-aid kits – one for your car and one for your home. Before you create your pet’s first-aid kit, talk with your veterinarian, who will suggest items appropriate for your pet’s breed, age, medical history, and lifestyle.

You can buy ready-made first-aid kits for pets, and you can also use many of the supplies in your household first-aid kit for your pet.

Here are some basic items for your furry family member’s first-aid kit:

➡️ Contact information. A hard copy of phone numbers and email addresses for your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, animal control, and animal poison control. Program this information into your cell phone, as well.

➡️ Medications. Backup supplies of all current prescribed medications (make sure they have not expired). Also include vet-approved, over-the-counter medications such as flea and tick preventives, sedatives for traveling, and antacids.

➡️ 3% Hydrogen Peroxide. If your pet ingests something poisonous, you may need to induce vomiting. Always contact your local animal poison control or your veterinarian before inducing vomiting.

❗ Do not use Hydrogen Peroxide to clean or disinfect wounds, as it can slow healing.

➡️ Milk of magnesia or activated charcoal can be used to absorb poison. As with Hydrogen Peroxide, always contact your local animal poison control or your veterinarian before administering either of these items.

➡️ Canned tuna (in water) or a can of chicken broth. Some plants and household cleaners can irritate your pet’s mouth, causing severe drooling and foaming. Giving your pet something tasty (such as the water from the can of tuna) can dilute the taste and safely flush the chemical out of your pet’s mouth and esophagus.

➡️ Saline wound flush for cleaning, irrigating, or flushing a wound. A bottle of saline eye/contact lens flush or saline nasal spray can also be used.

➡️ Liquid dish soap (not dishwasher soap) can be used to gently remove potentially poisonous chemicals or toxins from your pet’s fur.

➡️ Antibiotic ointment. For minor skin wounds, over-the-counter antibiotic ointment may work in a pinch. Ask your veterinarian which ointment they recommend for your pet.

➡️ Bandages and gauze. Do not use human adhesive bandages on pets. Invest in vet wrap, a flexible, stretchy, self-adhering bandage that is semi-watertight. Ask your veterinarian to recommend the correct width and to show you how to properly apply it.

Also include gauze rolls, gauze pads, non-stick bandage pads, self-adhesive bandage covers, bandage tape, blunt-tip bandage scissors, and tweezers.

➡️ Rectal thermometer, water-based lubricating jelly for use with the thermometer, and disposable gloves. Know what your pet’s “normal” is and ask your veterinarian how to properly use the thermometer.

➡️ Muzzle. When pets get wounded, they can become frantic. A muzzle covers your pet’s head and keeps it from biting.  If your pet is vomiting, do not muzzle it!

➡️ Leash, collar, poop bags, and kitty litter. Dogs can snap leashes in accidents, and a sick dog goes through a LOT of poop bags! If you are a cat owner and need to evacuate your home, you’ll be thankful that your first-aid kit includes a quart-size bag of kitty litter.

➡️ Collapsible travel food and water bowls. Whether you’re running errands, taking a road trip, or hiking, your pet needs to stay hydrated. Silicone bowls are ideal, as plastic can easily break into sharp pieces.

Include bottled water in your first-aid kit, too, of course.

➡️ Canned pet food. In some emergencies, you may need to evacuate immediately. Make sure your kit includes several cans of canned food with a pop-off lid, in case you forget a can opener.

Where to store pet first-aid supplies

Put supplies in a large tool box, fishing tackle box, backpack, shoulder bag, rubber bin, or in a heavy-duty, sealable plastic bag. Whatever storage system you use, make sure it’s easy to pick up and take wherever your pet needs treatment.

Store a kit in each automobile you drive, and one kit inside your home, out of the reach of children and pets.

Check your first-aid kit every few months and replace any missing or expired items.

Additional Resources

Service Dogs: Their Vital Role, and How to Spot the Real Ones

Service dogs are much more than just beloved pets. These superheroes in fur are specially trained to perform tasks that directly assist people with specific needs, significantly enhancing their quality of life and empowering them to navigate the world with confidence.

Aiden, the diabetic alert service dog for Christy Hoss.

5 Types of Service Dogs

Within the world of service dogs lies a diverse range of specializations, each catering to unique needs.

1. Guide Dogs:

These dogs provide safe navigation for individuals with visual impairments, guiding them around obstacles and helping them navigate unfamiliar environments.

Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers are commonly used for their intelligence, focus, and loyalty.

2. Mobility Assistance Dogs:

For individuals with mobility limitations, these dogs can retrieve items, open doors, pull wheelchairs, and even provide stability during balance challenges.

Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Great Danes, and Standard Poodles excel in these roles due to their strength and trainability.

3. Hearing Dogs:

These alert partners act as auditory extensions for individuals with hearing loss. They signal sounds like smoke alarms, fire alarms, telephones ringing, and doorbells, providing crucial safety and independence.

Breeds like Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, and Bull Terriers are often chosen for their alertness and focus.

4. Medical Alert Dogs:

Trained to detect specific medical conditions, these dogs can be lifesavers for individuals with diabetes, epilepsy, or allergies.

  • Diabetic alert dogs detect changes in blood sugar levels, prompting their handler to take necessary action.
  • Seizure response dogs sense the onset of seizures and help their companion safely lie down, retrieve medication, or alert others.
  • Allergen detection dogs can smell the slightest traces of potential allergens in the air or within food and alert their handlers to allergen exposure, allowing them to take necessary precautions.

Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles are typically used due to their attentiveness and ability to learn complex tasks.

5. Psychiatric Service Dogs (PSDs):

These calming dogs offer emotional support and assistance for individuals with mental health conditions like anxiety, PTSD, or depression. They can help mitigate anxiety attacks, flashbacks, or depressive episodes. They might offer tactile stimulation, help manage panic attacks, interrupt self-harming behaviors, or remind their partner to take medication.

Breeds like Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and Poodles are well-suited due to their calm and empathetic nature.

Beyond Breeds

Certain breeds like Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers are commonly associated with service work. These people-pleasing breeds are food-motivated, so they are easily trained, because treats help keep them focused on their handler.

However, any dog with the temperament and aptitude can be trained. Ultimately, their individual skills and willingness to work matter most.

Imposters Create Problems for True Service Dogs

Dogs wearing all kinds of vests are seemingly everywhere, making it difficult to identify authentic service dogs.

In addition, the rise of emotional support animals (ESAs) and the misconception that any well-behaved dog can be a service dog has led to confusion and even exploitation.

Christy Hoss, handler for a diabetic alert service dog, says, “Pet owners who pass their pets off as service dogs are selfishly harming those of us whose lives depend upon a working dog.”

Because so many people buy a “service dog” vest online and use that as an excuse to take their dog everywhere, Hoss sometimes encounters businesses that frown on her and her service dog. Recently, she visited a workout center and the check-in clerk told her, “Ma’am, you can’t have that dog in here.”

Her service dog was “on his harness, on duty, not barking, not pooping, and well-behaved.”

Hoss’s response to the clerk: “Yes, I can bring my dog in here, and what you told me is illegal.”

Businesses that have a “no dogs” policy can’t legally turn away a service dog and its handler. The story had a happy ending – it inspired the facility to train their employees on how to recognize a service dog.

5 Ways to Differentiate Service Dogs from Imposters

So, how can you distinguish a true service dog from an imposter? Here are 5 key indicators:

1. Task-Oriented:

A genuine service dog is always working. They maintain sustained focus on their handler, anticipating and responding to cues and performing their assigned tasks with attentiveness. They resist food temptations and politely decline playful advances from strangers.

2. Calm, Focused Demeanor:

Service dogs undergo rigorous training to avoid interacting with strangers or other animals, focusing solely on their handler’s needs. They maintain exceptional composure in public settings and in other highly stimulating environments. They rarely bark, lunge at people, or exhibit anxious or destructive behaviors.

3. Specialized Gear:

Service dogs almost always wear a well-fitting harness, tether, vest, or jacket. While not mandatory everywhere, some service dogs wear official tags or patches that clearly identify their working status and the type of disability they assist with. Their handler may also carry the service dog’s certification from a reputable training organization.

4. No “Emotional Support” Labels:

Legitimate service dogs won’t wear vests labeled “emotional support” or “therapy animal,” as these designations do not hold the same legal protections. Unlike service dogs, who accompany their handler everywhere, emotional support dogs are usually used in private settings.

5. Public Access Rights:

Service dogs are legally allowed to accompany their handlers in public spaces where pets are typically banned, such as hospitals (except for sterile surgical environments), clinics, school classrooms, college dorms, homeless shelters, hotels, airplane cabins, and shops.

They are allowed in establishments that prepare and sell food, although they are not permitted in the part of a restaurant where food is being prepared.

Businesses cannot deny entry based solely on the presence of a service dog (see the next section for more information).

Respect the Partnership

Service dogs are not pets. They are dedicated partners performing essential tasks for their handlers.

Here are some etiquette tips to help you interact with a service dog team:

If you encounter a team in public, maintain a respectful distance. Offer a friendly smile or nod, and avoid petting or engaging without permission.

Service dog handlers often appreciate genuine inquiries about their dog’s role, but may choose not to talk about their disability or their dog’s training beyond providing basic information. They may decline requests for photos.

Avoid unintentional discrimination by familiarizing yourself with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) regarding the public access rights of service animals.

It is not legal for staff in a public place to “ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.” (ADA.gov)

Legitimate service dog programs do not issue identification cards or vests. Requesting such documents is against the law, unnecessary, and discriminatory.

By respecting these boundaries, you help create a more welcoming world for individuals who depend on the unwavering loyalty and invaluable service of their furry companions.

Note: This article provides information and should not be construed as legal advice. For specific legal questions or concerns, consult with an attorney specializing in disability law.

Additional Resources

It’s important to educate yourself and others about the vital role service dogs play, fostering understanding and respect for these incredible animals and their handlers.

For more information about The Americans with Disabilities Act and to speak with an ADA Specialist, call the ADA Information Line 800-514-0301 (Voice) and 1-833-610-1264 (TTY)

M-W, F 9:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. and 3:00-5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time)
Th 2:30-5:30 p.m. (Eastern Time). Calls are confidential.

National Institute of Canine Service and Training (NICST)


Canine Companions

Guide Dogs for the Blind

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog

Many work-from-home pet parents tell us they’re happier, less stressed, and are getting more exercise because of the constant company of their pet.

An added benefit of being around our pets all day is that we’re noticing potential symptoms of illness or injury at earlier stages and are scheduling important veterinary care on a regular basis.

On the other hand, pets who incessantly beg for our attention can distract us from our work. Like this:

Cats on the Keyboard

You’ve probably been on a Zoom call where someone’s cat (perhaps your cat) stuck its nose into the camera, meandered across the keyboard, jostled the device, or disconnected the call.

Cats love the warmth of a computer and they can’t resist the enticing movement they see on the screen. Plus, they like being the center of attention. When they sprawl across your keyboard and you “reward” them by petting them or talking to them, they think, “This is a great place to be. I’ll just stay here!”

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

This attention-seeking behavior is not conducive to meeting work deadlines. Instead of reinforcing the behavior, train your cat to break the habit by setting up a comfortable, warm deskside bed or by placing a cat blanket on a cleared-off shelf or windowsill. Reward your cat with attention and praise when it settles there.

Purposeful Playtime for Cats

Make sure you give your kitty plenty of love and attention when you’re away from the keyboard. Cats need mental challenges and purposeful playtime.

Schedule two or three 10-minute play sessions each day. The first one should take place before you start work.

This will tire kitty out a bit and will prepare them for naptime in their deskside bed. During each playtime, actively engage with your cat, rotating toys every few minutes.

Destructive Dogs

Dogs aren’t as keen on keyboards as cats are, but when they get stir-crazy, dogs can bark incessantly, chew things you don’t want them to touch, and generally destroy things.

They, too, need lots of mental and physical exercise. Try these 6 brain games to keep your dog’s mind healthy.

Pre-Workday Quality Time

Before you begin your workday (and again, later in the day), take your dog for a walk. Walks help keep their muscles strong, their joints limber, and their brains sharp. They’re good for you, too!

Prior to starting work, take 20 minutes to play scent games, puzzle games, hide-and-seek, and other interactive games.

Time spent together will deepen your bond and will tire your pup out, which helps deter negative attention-seeking behaviors such as whining and barking.

Tips for Working from Home with Your Cat or Dog | atlanticvetseattle.com

When you’re on a video or phone call, keep your dog busy and distracted by giving them their favorite toy or a frozen treat.

Create a consistent routine by setting up a space for your dog that’s independent of your workspace. It might be a crate or a gated area in your home. It should be comfortable and your dog should feel safe and relaxed there. Give your dog toys and treat puzzles to keep them engaged on their own.

Reward Appropriate “Office” Behavior

The most important thing to remember when working at home with pets is not to reward attention-seeking behavior. When they commandeer the keyboard or whine, paw, or nudge you, don’t talk to them or pet them. When you respond to these behaviors, it signals your pet that they will always get your attention by doing these things.

Don’t punish or scold your pet for these behaviors, either. Instead, thoughtfully provide your furry friend with activities that will keep them occupied and content. Reward them with a treat when they exhibit appropriate office behavior.

Read Part 2 in This Series

7 Steps to Prepare Your Pet for the End of Working from Home

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide

The cranial cruciate ligament, or CCL (called the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL in humans) is a very important ligament in the stifle (knee) joint in pets.

This tiny ligament’s job, along with the caudal cruciate ligament and collateral ligaments, is to stabilize the stifle joint where the femur (thigh) and tibia (shin) bones meet. Because cats and dogs stand on 4 limbs, the angle of their stifle joints put constant stress on the CCL, even while only standing.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Cranial cruciate ligament rupture is one of the most common orthopedic injuries in dogs.

Some cases of CCL rupture occur acutely – from trauma such as a fall, stepping in a hole, hit-by-car, or other high-force injury to the stifle.

However, most CCL ruptures are caused by slow, gradual degeneration of the ligament. Rupture may be partial or complete. In many cases, it starts as a partial tear and progresses to a full rupture of the ligament over time.

Following the rupture of the cranial cruciate ligament, the stifle becomes unstable. When the dog or cat places weight on the limb, this instability allows the shin bone (tibia) to slide forward relative to the thigh bone (femur).

The stifle feels like it is “giving way,” causing pain and severe lameness. To avoid pain, the injured pet automatically shifts its weight to the “good” hind leg. This weight shift causes the other leg to do “double duty,” putting it at much greater risk of rupturing the other CCL.

Cranial cruciate ligament injuries are most likely in older, large breed, and overweight dogs.

The causes for CCL rupture are related to the age, breed, size, body condition, and activity of the pet, as well as its conformation. Obesity plays a large factor in CCL ruptures. While not nearly as common in cats, CCL tears are one of the most common problems veterinary surgeons fix in dogs.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Certain dog breeds are predisposed, such as:

  • Labrador Retriever
  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Newfoundland
  • Staffordshire Terrier
  • Mastiff
  • Akita
  • Bernard
  • Chesapeake Bay Retriever

The injury is more common in spayed and neutered dogs, and is part of the reason veterinarians now recommend delaying spay or neuter surgery for large and giant breed dogs until the dog is 1-2 years of age.

Overweight pets are at higher risk for cruciate ligament injuries

Any dog or cat can tear its CCL ligament, but overweight pets are at significantly higher risk. Slimming to a healthy weight is a very important part of the prevention and healing process after a CCL rupture.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.comAdditionally, overweight pets will have more difficulty moving around while recovering from surgery, which can result in prolonged healing and pain.

A healthy weight and body condition reduces the stress on the injured joint, as well as stress on the other stifle’s ligaments.

Ideally, performing surgery to stabilize the injured stifle and address the excess weight can be done simultaneously, improving pets’ overall health and comfort, minimizing the development of severe arthritis, decreasing the risk of similar injury to the other hind leg, and getting them on the road to recovery as soon as possible. If your pet is overweight, our doctors would be happy to work with you develop a plan to help him/her slim down to a healthy weight.

How we diagnose CCL injuries

Typically, lameness is diagnosed with:

  • A thorough medical history
  • Complete physical exam and gait analysis
  • Radiographs (X-rays)
  • Lyme disease test

Often, when assessing a stifle injury, pets require a brief sedation to allow the doctor to manipulate the painful stifle. This manipulation is called the cranial drawer test and is used to assess for excessive joint laxity.

Radiographs are used to evaluate the stifle for signs of joint laxity, increased joint fluid, arthritis, and other potential – but much less common – disease processes that can cause similar lameness and pain, such as bone cancer.

A test for Lyme disease, which can cause lameness through joint inflammation, is also warranted.

A new diagnostic option: Orthopedic Ultrasound

An exciting new branch of ultrasound technology is gaining acceptance for smaller animals — orthopedic ultrasound. First used in equine medicine, it allows veterinarians to study injuries to muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints in a completely non-invasive and non-painful way. It’s particularly helpful when the cause of a lameness isn’t 100% obvious on physical exam.

Orthopedic ultrasound is more sensitive for soft tissue injuries than radiographs, which are better for evaluating bones. In addition, ultrasound costs less than MRIs and CAT scans and doesn’t require anesthesia. At worst, a patient may need light sedation to perform the ultrasound.

Ultrasound allows the doctor to “see” ligaments, tendons, muscles, and cartilage, guiding the recommended treatment plan. It can be used to determine if an ACL is completely torn, requiring surgery, or only partially damaged, which may heal with strict adherence to an 8-week rest and therapy plan. It can also be used to monitor the healing of a tendon or a ligament.


Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Surgical Options – Most Common Choice

Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy, or TPLO, is by far the most common cruciate surgical repair technique used in dogs. TPLO involves improving the biomechanics of the stifle by changing the angle of the top of the shin bone, called the tibial plateau.

In this technique, the top of the tibia is cut, rotated, and stabilized in place with surgical plates and screws. The change in the angle of the tibial plateau makes the stifle feel stable to the dog when weight-bearing, despite the ruptured ligament.

The success rate of TPLO surgery is high, with most dogs returning to normal or almost normal function. In one study, 98% of owners reported excellent, very good, or good outcomes. Because of the high degree of success, it has become the treatment of choice in large-breed and/or athletic dogs.

The most common complications with TPLO surgery include infection (approximately 6%) and implant loosening or failure.

Another surgical approach to CCL repair includes the Tibial Tuberosity Advancement (TTA). The TTA technique is sometimes used an alternative to TPLO in large dogs. It also aims to restore the biomechanics of the stifle.

Alternatively, two Extracapsular Surgical Repair Techniques aim to recreate the stifle-stabilizing function of the CCL by strengthening the tissues surrounding the stifle. These techniques are usually reserved for cats and medium-to-small dogs. While providing comfort, they are often not as effective in returning the stifle to full athletic function.

We now offer TPLO and other surgical cruciate repair procedures at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

Board-certified veterinary surgeon, Dr. Eric Hoots, has partnered with us to provide TPLO and other surgical options for pets with cruciate ligament rupture at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Hoots has been providing specialty and advanced surgical care for pets since 2002. Pets are admitted and medically supervised by one of our doctors, who also manages the pet’s follow-up care.

Physical rehab therapy at Atlantic Veterinary Hospital

Dr. Tricia Munroe | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Tricia Munroe

Unlike 15 years ago, pets that undergo orthopedic surgery these days are no longer confined to crates during the recovery periods, but encouraged to exercise in a controlled and precise manner to increase their strength, maintain range-of-motion, and hasten healing.

Appropriate exercises can also improve pets’ comfort, help with weight loss, reduce scar tissue formation, and improve their quality-of-life — who doesn’t get achy and sad when forced to lie around?

A growing specialty, Certified Veterinary Rehab Therapy experts like our Dr. Tricia Munroe provide physical rehabilitation therapy in a specially-designed clinic setting similar to a physical therapist’s office for humans. Dr. Munroe, who is also certified in acupuncture, can develop and monitor a custom exercise and therapy plan to:

  • increase strength in the injured limb or spine
  • maintain joint range-of-motion
  • promote weight loss and general well-being
  • reduce pain and promote healing

Dr. Munroe uses a variety of treatment modalities, including specific exercises, stretching, acupuncture, and laser therapy. She also teaches pet owners how to help their pets exercise at home with precise exercises tailored to the pet.

What about cell therapy?

Stem cells are the basic cell precursors from which all other types of cells are generated. All specialized cells, such as muscle cells, nerve cells, blood cells, etc., originated from stem cells. Under the right conditions in the body or laboratory, stem cells can divide to self-renew and recreate new, functional tissue.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Stem Cell Therapy and other biological injections, such as Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), have gained much attention in the last few years as potential alternatives to surgery and have created a flurry of research. These “cutting edge” therapies may eventually have the potential for several applications in both human and veterinary medicine. Researchers are developing techniques with the hopes of treating bone fractures, restoring diseased cartilage in arthritic joints, healing ligaments and tendons, and reversing type 1 diabetes.

Stem cell therapy and PRP are thought to promote the repair response in diseased, dysfunctional, or injured tissue. According to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), “Stem cells have been called everything from cure-alls to miracle treatments.”

The techniques are still considered experimental. Most stem cell therapy, if using adult stem cells collected from the patient’s own body, is considered safe because it minimizes the risk of unwanted reaction. The most common side effects are temporary swelling and pain.

Is stem cell therapy truly effective? The jury is still out.

When used to help treat orthopedic disease, adult stem cells or platelets are harvested from the patient’s own body (typically from abdominal fat, blood, or bone marrow). The cells are processed in the lab, and then injected into the patient’s affected joint with the goal of decreasing inflammation and promoting healing.

Stem cell therapy or PRP may help a pet with a partially-torn CCL rebuild the ligament and make it stronger. If the CCL is completely ruptured or degenerated, stem cell therapy may be used to strengthen the other ligaments of the stifle.

Stem cell therapy and PRP are currently quite expensive.

We are still evaluating the science behind the variety of stem cell therapy and PRP treatment options available for dogs and cats, and will likely offer the therapy in the future when we are satisfied that the techniques are effective.


Conservative nonsurgical treatment options for complete CCL rupture are recommended less often by veterinarians because they have a lower success rate of returning a pet to normal function and a lower satisfaction rate amongst pet owners.

Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Dogs and Cats: A Complete Guide | atlanticvetseattle.com

Conservative options may be considered an alternative when surgery is not an option; for example, when a pet also has significant heart disease, making anesthesia ill-advised.

Non-surgical options have historically included:

  • cage rest
  • extended exercise restriction (several months)
  • appropriate pain medications
  • cartilage protectant medications
  • weight control

Non-surgical options have improved somewhat with advances in physical rehabilitation and recent improvements in custom leg braces used to support, protect, and align the injured limb.

Custom-made braces can be expensive and but may be helpful in small dogs if tolerated – some dogs will not. To be effective, the dog must wear the brace at all times. Lack of comfort and skin irritations, sometimes severe, are the most common concerns.

What happens if you don’t repair a torn CCL?

An untreated CCL tear can lead to a myriad of consequences and a cycle of pain, decreased mobility, and diminishing quality of life due to:

  • Chronic pain caused by joint laxity and the development of arthritis. While pain medications tend to help and improve the limp, they do not fix the tear. As time goes by, pain may decrease to some degree, but it stills hurts, especially once arthritis sets in.
  • Osteoarthritis, or inflammation in a joint. Arthritis is a life-long condition for which there is no cure. While anti-inflammatories and joint supplements may help, they don’t “fix” the arthritis and their effectiveness can decline over time. In addition, as pets age, they may develop liver and kidney problems that require us to curtail or forgo anti-inflammatory medication.
  • Decreased range-of-motion in the stifle due to the development of scar tissue. Without surgery to stabilize the wobbly stifle, the body attempts to create stability with scar tissue. Unfortunately, this scar tissue is hardly ever strong enough to keep the stifle stable, leading to pain, arthritis, stiffness, and decreased range-of-motion.
  • Muscle loss and weakness in the injured leg due to lack of use. Pets with an ACL tear move a lot less overall. And when they do move, they will shift their weight to the other three limbs and carry the injured limb. It’s the use-it-or-lose-it phenomenon. By decreasing their exercise, they lose muscle all over, putting other joints at risk because of the loss of joint-stabilizing muscles. The injured limb will have the post pronounced muscle atrophy.
  • Changes in gait and posture that negatively affect the other three limbs and spine.
  • ACL tear in the other leg. When the ACL tears in one stifle, pets will shift their weight to the other hind leg, often leading to an ACL tear in the opposite leg.
  • Weight gain due to inactivity. Pets with chronic lameness become inactive couch potatoes, losing muscle, and frequently gaining weight. The added weight puts more pressure on the joints, leading to more pain and more of the consequences above.
  • Meniscal tears. Meniscus are an important cartilage cushion in the stifle. Left untreated, up to half of dogs with ACL tears will end up with a torn meniscus, causing more pain and more of the consequences above.

Marijuana: Concerns and Possible Benefits in Veterinary Medicine

Marijuana: Concerns and Possible Benefits in Veterinary Medicine | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

With recreational marijuana legal in Washington State, we are seeing a significant increase in the number of questions from pet parents about its uses in veterinary medicine.

As most people know, marijuana has two main active components: THC and CBD.

THC – Toxic to Pets

THC is the chemical in marijuana that causes the high (and many of its other effects). THC may also cause increased sensory perception (ie., brighter colors), laughter, a change in the perception of time, drowsiness, and the munchies. However, in some people, THC causes fear, anxiety, distrust, and hallucinations.

THC is toxic to pets. With the increased availability of edible marijuana products and marijuana cigarettes, we’re seeing an increase in the number of marijuana poisonings in dogs. Often, these poisonings require emergency treatment.

CBD – Illegal for Veterinarians to Recommend

CBD is the compound in marijuana that may decrease inflammation. CBD does not make people high and is not mind-altering. It’s been investigated since the 1970s as a potential anti-seizure medication in people with uncontrolled seizures.

CBD appears to be a safe drug in people with no addictive side effects, and it may be therapeutic in a number of human medical conditions, such as epilepsy, arthritis, and anxiety.

There are no published studies of CBD’s safety in pets, its potential drug interactions, its proper dosing, or whether currently available products contain a consistent amount of CBD.

And while CBD products are readily available for purchase – some even specifically labeled for pets by their manufacturer – it is illegal for veterinarians to recommend CBD products at this time.

CBD Oil – The Jury’s Out

We get questions daily from pet parents who would like to treat their dog or cat with CBD oil. Some pet parents choose to use these products without consulting with us first.

To be on the safe side, please don’t give your dog CBD oil or any marijuana products.

Studies are underway, but until we have more information and products that have been tested for purity and accurate concentrations, as well as federal authorization to prescribe, veterinarians are unable to recommend them.

Atlantic Veterinary Hospital in Seattle serves the following neighborhoods: Mt. Baker, Columbia City, Beacon Hill, Rainier Valley, Seward Park, Capitol Hill, Leschi, Central District, Madison Valley, International District, and Georgetown.