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Helping Family Members Grieve the Death of a Pet

Part 2 in our pet loss series

Part 1: How to Emotionally Prepare for the Death of a Pet

Losing a pet is heartbreaking for everyone in the family – for adults, children, and even for other pets.

Helping Children Prepare for the Death of a Pet

The death of a pet may be your child’s first experience with grieving the loss of a loved one.

If your pet will be euthanized due to age, illness, or injury, talk with your child before it happens. Tell your child the truth in simple, clear terms.

Instead of saying the pet will “go to sleep” (a phrase that young children take literally and could cause many sleepless nights for them), explain that the pet will receive a shot that will stop its heart from beating, and that the pet will die peacefully, without pain or fear.

Share information with your child gently, in a safe and comfortable place, and in age-appropriate ways. Reassure your child that everyone has done everything they can to help the pet and this is the kindest thing to do.

Consider these additional tips to help your child through the grieving process:

  • Use teachable moments from nature to introduce the topic of pet death.
  • Talk about your emotions and model appropriate responses.
  • Encourage your child to ask questions and express sadness, anger, fear, and other feelings.
  • Help your child find a special way to remember your pet and share happy memories.

Books for young children on pet loss

Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant, for ages 1 year and up

When a Pet Dies, by Fred Rogers, for ages 4-8

The Heaven of Animals, by Nancy Tillman, for ages 4-8

I’ll Always Love You, by Hans Wilhelm, for ages 3-7

The Rainbow Bridge: A Visit to Pet Paradise, by Adrian Raeside, for ages 4-9

The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Erik Blegvad – picture book for ages 6-9

The Invisible Leash, by Patrice Karst, illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff, for ages 4-8

Dogs in Heaven, by Melanie Salas

Helping Surviving Pets Grieve

Children aren’t the only family members who mourn the loss of a pet. If your household has more than one pet, surviving pets will also grieve over the loss of their companion.

Dogs and cats are pack animals, and their “pack” includes both the humans and other animals who live in your household. They depend on each member of the pack for safety and well-being, and may feel anxious and distressed at the loss of a furry family member.

It’s important to show extra love and attention to surviving pets as they mourn the loss. You may find it frustrating or disheartening when you don’t know what to do to comfort your surviving pet.

Try these three tips to help you through the process:

1. Observe your pet to notice how it’s affected by the loss.

Watch for changes in appetite, habits (such as grooming or soiling), sleep, vocalization, and personality.

2. Maintain normal routines as much as possible.

Allow surviving pets time to establish a new social structure – a new normal.

3. Introduce new challenges.

Teach your pet a new behavior. Take them on a walk in a new location. Give them an interactive feeding toy.

Related articles:

When we reach out beyond ourselves in some way, it helps us through times of sorrow. As we comfort our surviving pet, its love and companionship can help us through our own grieving process.

Coming Next Week:

Healthy, Healing Ways to Cope with Pet Loss

How to Emotionally Prepare for the Death of a Pet

woman with three dogs

(Part 1 in our series on pet loss)

We’d like to think our furry family members will live forever. But pet loss can occur at any time—in a tragic instant or over a period of time due to an extended illness. Whether we’ve had our pet for a few days or many years, we form deep bonds with our pets and grieve their loss deeply.

A couple of pet parents had a five-year-old dog whom they’d raised from puppyhood, who unexpectedly passed away from a seizure.

After the dog died, the owners would find balls in the closet and toys tucked into nooks around the house, which triggered trauma. The loss was so distressing for the pet parents that they took two weeks away from home to grieve and journal their feelings about the loss of their family member.

When a pet is aging or infirm, find things to do that bring you both joy.

It’s disheartening to watch a formerly active pet grow frail. But even as you bemoan the fact that you can’t do certain things with your pet anymore, you can find other ways to spend time together.

dog in car

If you and your dog enjoyed taking hikes together but he now struggles to walk, take him for a drive in the car or relax under a tree together.

If your cat can no longer jump to her favorite sunny spot by the window, create a ramp covered with carpet, or box steps that will provide firm footing.

Other ways to prepare for pet loss:

Making difficult end-of-life decisions

Some pet parents face not only preparing for the loss of their beloved pet, but also making the decision as to when that time has come. In these cases, they may experience feelings of guilt, embarrassment, and even depression. Not everyone will understand their grief, which makes it harder to work through the grieving process.

One pet parent adopted a senior cat when the cat’s senior humans passed away. The cat had health problems. As her health got worse, it was draining on the cat and on her human. Loss was inevitable, and not any easier, even with extended time to emotionally prepare for it.

Pet parents often struggle with knowing when the time has come to let a pet go.

One couple, who adopted a pregnant stray cat, decided to keep one of her kittens. When the kitten was 8 weeks old, she scampered under their car as they were backing out of their garage. They immediately brought the kitten to an emergency veterinary clinic, but her injuries were too severe, and the vet had to euthanize her. The difficult decision was guided by trusted medical advice.

Another family had an equally tough decision to make. All weekend their retriever, Sam, had given them those puppy-dog-eyes. “Please help me.” Every movement he made revealed his pain.

After Sam’s initial knee injury, his family had consulted with their veterinarian. A splint and time, and they hoped to avoid costly surgery, but those measures weren’t enough.

As his pain increased and mobility decreased, the pet parents faced a difficult decision. They couldn’t afford the surgery. And they cared too much for Sam to allow him to continue to suffer. As Sam had stood by his pet parents in a time of health crisis, in turn his pet parents decided to do the humane thing and relieve Sam of his pain.

Knowing when it’s time to say goodbye

Our pets may not always be able to communicate when it’s time to go, as Sam did with his humans. The process of determining when a pet is “too sick” or “too injured” may leave pet parents with feelings of guilt or failure.

Throughout our pet’s life, it’s important to closely observe them and to be alert for signs of illness, injury, or suffering that may lead to an end-of-life decision.

Key indicators may include:

  • pain that cannot be managed by medication
  • inability to eat on their own
  • inability to use their indoor or outdoor bathroom space
  • lack of interaction with loved ones
  • lack of enjoyment and ability to participate in favorite activities
  • overall mood and quality of life

We want the best for our family and pets—in sickness and in health, in life and in death.

It’s not always possible to emotionally prepare for pet loss before it happens. The only way to ready yourself is to honor the time you have with your pet while you have it.

When the time comes to part, use that time to express sadness that is authentic. Time well used is the best way to honor your friendship with your pet.

Coming next week:

Helping Family Members Grieve the Death of a Pet

5 Steps to Introducing a New Kitten to Your Resident Cat

“My cat wants a kitten to play with!”

Well… maybe.

5 Steps to Introducing a New Kitten to Your Resident Cat | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

While your resident cat may be laid back and good-natured, all cats are territorial. Adding a tiny, frisky fluffball may trigger panic, jealousy, moodiness, aggression, and other negative behaviors in your resident cat.

To lessen the stress on everyone, follow these 5 steps:

Step 1: Prepare your resident cat before the kitten arrives

When your resident cat recognizes the scent of the new kitten, they are less likely to feel threatened. If possible, take a pet blanket to the shelter or place from which you’ll be adopting the kitten and rub your kitten’s scent into the blanket. When you arrive home, place the blanket in an area where your cat will find it on their own and become familiar with the scent.

If you free-feed your existing cat, switch to meal feeding before bringing home the kitten. Scheduled mealtimes establish a predictable, comforting routine.

Step 2: Prepare your home before the kitten arrives

It’s tempting to put the new kitten and resident cat in a room together and let them duke it out. Don’t do that!

Both cats need time to adjust to each other’s presence before meeting in person (or rather, “in cat”). They also need a safe space to retreat to when they’re feeling overwhelmed.

5 Steps to Introducing a New Kitten to Your Resident Cat | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Prepare separate spaces for each cat that can be shut off from the rest of the home. A utility room, office, spare bedroom, or bathroom might work well. Equip each space with the kitty’s bed, a safe hiding spot, soft items that absorb the cat’s scent, a scratching post, water bowl, food bowl, favorite toys, and litter box.

Step 3: Introduce your cats by scent

A great deal of your cats’ communication is based on scent, so it’s important to create a positive “scent” association for both cats before they meet.

On the day your kitten arrives, put your resident cat in another room with its favorite things (see Step 2). Give your kitten a tour of the home and then settle the kitten into its own private space.

Now you can let your resident cat out of its space. Let your cat smell your kitten-scented hands and clothes and give the cat treats.

During the first few days, allow each cat to explore the other’s territory and get comfortable with each other’s scent without seeing each other.

This video offers helpful tips on how to teach your cats to “scents” each other.

Step 4: Create a socially distanced meet-and-greet

Once your cat and kitten get used to each other’s scents, allow them to see each other through a pet gate, a screen door, or to sniff under the door of the other cat’s “safe room.”

At mealtime, set their food bowls on either side of a closed door (not too close together at first). This lets each cat sense that there’s another cat on the other side of the door.

After both cats begin behaving normally when in close proximity, you can allow them to meet.

Step 5: Informally introduce your kitten and cat

When both cats seem ready to meet face-to-face, without a barrier between them, bring one cat into the room and engage it in active play and/or with treats. Enlist the help of another person, and have them bring the other cat into the room and do the same.

Closely monitor each cats’ body language for warning signs such as hissing, growling, arching, skittishness, hostile actions, and signs of distress. Be ready with blankets to quickly and calmly separate them should either cat become aggressive.

Keep the introduction short, rewarding each cat with praise and treats. As the cats begin to tolerate and accept each other, gradually increase their time together.

As your kitten and cat begin to interact freely, continue to pay close attention to their behavior. Normal, non-aggressive play may include pouncing, running, rolling, batting, hiding, chasing, and competing for toys and attention. Be prepared to separate them quickly should playful behavior evolve into aggressive fighting.

Depending on both cats’ temperaments, the introduction process will take at least a week – possibly much longer.

Be patient with your kitten and cat as they get acquainted. Reward them for appropriate behavior. Before long, your kitties will hopefully develop mutual respect and maybe even a lifelong friendship.

Laser Therapy for Pets: Speeds Healing, Enhances Comfort

Laser therapy is a comfortable, drug-free, non-invasive therapy used to successfully treat a variety of painful pet conditions.

Dr. Monahan performs laser surgery on a dog | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Laser therapy speeds healing and enhances comfort for chronic issues, such as arthritis and some neurologic conditions, as well as acute injuries like wounds, injuries, dental extractions, incisions, and broken bones. And, in the hands of a trained veterinary acupuncturists, therapeutic lasers can also be used to perform laser acupuncture therapy.

While a relatively new therapy, laser technology has significantly improved in recent years from the older, less powerful “cold lasers” to the newest and most effective Class IV Therapeutic Lasers, such as our Companion Laser.

What does laser therapy feel like?

During laser therapy, patients feel a soothing warmth during the treatment and typically relax and enjoy the session. Areas of inflammation may briefly feel sensitive to the touch, before pain reduction occurs. Therapy sessions usually last 10-20 minutes, depending upon the number of body sites treated and the size of the animal.

How often should a patient be treated?

Dr. Munroe with a happy laser surgery patient | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Munroe with a happy laser surgery patient.

Acute conditions can be treated daily, particularly in cases of severe pain. Chronic problems (arthritis, some skin conditions) may respond better with treatments 2-3 times weekly, tapering down to once every 2-4 weeks, or as needed.

How long before results are seen?

While some patients experience significant pain reduction after the first visit, improvement is usually seen by the third or fourth session, and the benefits of treatments are cumulative. Acute conditions often improve quickly, while chronic conditions (such as arthritis) may require ongoing therapy treatment to achieve and maintain optimal results.

Click here to learn more about our Rehab & Sports Medicine therapies.

Why Are My Dog’s Eyes Red?

Why Are My Dog’s Eyes Red?

The causes of red, inflamed eyes in dogs vary considerably, from mild allergies to sight-robbing health conditions, to serious systemic infections.

Red eyes can be a symptom of a serious systemic disease, so a complete physical exam and sometimes laboratory tests are an important part of determining the cause and treatment.

Hay Fever and Allergies

Allergic conjunctivitis often occurs when the pollen count is high. Dogs, like humans, can suffer from “hay fever” and allergies, causing mild-to-moderate inflammation and itchiness of the tissues surrounding the eyeball.

Allergic dogs can be so uncomfortable they rub their eyes, introducing bacteria and causing infection and/or causing a painful scratch or abrasion on their cornea (the clear tissue at the front of the eye). Corneal ulcers may be superficial and heal quickly with treatment. Left untreated, they can become deep and very serious. Best to have us check it out.

Corneal Ulcers

Corneal ulcers, caused by an abrasion to the cornea, will also cause a dog’s eye to become reddened and inflamed. Corneal ulcers are not uncommon in social dogs that frequent doggie day cares, dog parks, and sometimes grooming salons.

They occur more frequently in “smooshy-faced” (brachycephalic) breeds whose eyes are more exposed, such as French bulldogs, Shih Tzus, English bulldogs, Boxers, Boston Terriers, and Pugs.

Bacteria, Viruses, and Uveitis

Reddened eyes can also be infectious, ranging from a potentially contagious bacterial infection (“pink eye”) to serious viral upper respiratory infections, like canine influenza and canine distemper.

Viral upper respiratory infections will be accompanied by a fever and other symptoms, and may make dogs very ill.

Uveitis (inflammation within the eyeball) can be caused by an autoimmune disease, trauma to the eye, or very serious systemic infections, such as leptospirosis.

Eyelid Growths

Anything rubbing on the eyeball can cause inflammation and discomfort, and can lead to secondary problems such as infection and corneal ulcers.

Distichiasis is when an eyelash growing in the wrong place (such as on the inside of the eyelid) causes irritation to the eye.

Other times, a Meibomian gland in the lash line goes rogue and grows into a mass that rubs on the eye.

Glaucoma, Dry Eye, and Eye Tumors

Some health conditions causing red eyes are very serious and need immediate treatment.

Glaucoma (increased pressure within the eye), can rob a dog of its sight.

Keratoconjunctiva sicca, or “dry eye” is an autoimmune disease decreasing normal tear production, making a dog’s eye extremely painful and damaging the cornea, also robbing a dog of its sight if left untreated.

Tumors and growths within the eyeball can also cause the eye to become reddened and need to be diagnosed and treated quickly.

We Provide Physical Therapy and Rehab Therapy for Animals

Veterinary rehabilitation therapy is new and exciting field in which human physical therapy techniques are adapted to treat animals with debilitating and painful musculoskeletal and neurological conditions.

Rehab-certified veterinarians use an array of traditional and alternative therapies to reduce pain, increase strength and flexibility, and enhance recovery from injury, surgery, and degenerative diseases in their efforts to help their animal patients live full and comfortable lives.

Dr. Tricia Munroe | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

Dr. Tricia Munroe

Dr. Tricia Munroe, cVMA, CCRT, completed a rigorous training course and certification in canine rehabilitation therapy and sports medicine in 2016.

She uses her training to evaluate our patients with orthopedic and neurological conditions, then prescribe and implement an individualized treatment plan aimed at increasing muscle strength, joint flexibility, and balance, while decreasing pain.

Treatment plans may include:

  • specialized exercises
  • laser therapy
  • acupuncture
  • massage
  • cold or heat therapies
  • electrical stimulation
  • medication

Dr. Munroe educates owners about their pets’ condition and what they can do at home to help their pet, such as home exercise programs. She can also suggest home adaptations and tools that may be useful to help a pet move more comfortably and confidently.

As one of only 17 veterinarians with CCRT certification in Washington, Dr. Munroe is seeing an increasing number of patients for rehab therapy and accepts referral patients from other veterinary clinics for patients who would benefit from rehab therapy.

Here’s a video of Dr. Monroe working with patients (on our Facebook page)

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.

Pet Doesn’t Like to Travel? Let Us Come to You!

Does your pet get anxious when traveling to the vet?

Does he have a medical condition that makes him difficult to transport?

Do you have young kids at home, and don’t want to find a sitter for them while you take your pet to the vet?

Or maybe you just want to avoid Seattle traffic.

Let us come to you.

Pet Doesn't Like to Travel? Let Us Come to You! | AtlanticVetSeattle.com

A veterinary house call blends our commitment to exceptional veterinary care and old-fashioned service, brought to your door.

Many (but not all) types of appointments are suitable for home visits. Learn about our well pet house calls and hospice care house calls.

House calls are scheduled weekdays for pets who live in the following zip codes: 98144, 98108, 98118, 98122, 98134, and 98040.

Slug Bait – It’s Dangerous for Pets

Slow-moving, slimy slugs are everywhere this time of year. These shell-less gastropod molluscs can devour your garden, and they can infect pets who eat them with lung worms.

The Dangers of Slug Bait to Pets | AtlanticVetSeattle.com


Be cautious about putting slug bait out, as it is a common source of poisoning in dogs and cats. That’s because slug bait includes brown sugar or molasses to attract slugs. Unfortunately, the sweet stuff also makes the bait irresistible to our furry friends.

In addition to brown sugar or molasses, slug bait (which comes in pellet, liquid, or powder form) typically contains the active ingredient metaldehyde.

Ingestion of even small quantities of metaldehyde can be fatal. Poisoned pets may show symptoms within minutes, and symptoms may develop up to three hours after ingestion.

Symptoms of Metaldehyde Poisoning

If you suspect that your pet has ingested slug bait, call us immediately. Symptoms may include:

  • Anxiety
  • Panting
  • Twitching
  • High fever
  • Hypersalivating (drooling)
  • Vomiting
  • Ataxia (lack of coordination)
  • Seizures
  • Muscle tremors
  • Hyperthermia (high fever)
  • Convulsions

Safer Ways to Get Rid of Slugs

This article outlines four alternative ways to lure slugs and snails:

  • Beer or milk traps
  • Cornmeal traps
  • Humane traps
  • Night hunting

4 Remedies for Hairballs in Cats

Did you know that cats spend up to a quarter of their day grooming themselves?

4 Remedies for Hairballs in Cats | atlanticvetseattle.com

Their rough tongues catch loose hair, which is swallowed and usually passes unnoticed through their GI tract. When a larger amount of hair has accumulated in the stomach, however, cats have a unique talent of vomiting up a trichobezoar, or “hairball” (although it’s hardly shaped like a ball).

This is protective measure that usually works just fine to rid the cat of excessive hair in its stomach. Occasionally, the trichobezoar grows so large it cannot pass out of the stomach or blocks the intestinal tract, requiring emergency surgery to remove it. Fortunately, these occurrences are rare.

Other times, cats are vomiting hairballs more frequently than normal, indicating some other underlying medical problem that needs to be addressed (besides having the carpet cleaners on speed dial).

Cats that vomit hairballs more than once a month (except in May and June, perhaps twice a month), may be grooming excessively. Or, the frequent hairballs may be a result of inflammatory bowel disease, food sensitivity, or an intestinal motility problem. It’s time to give us a call and schedule an appointment.

4 Common Remedies for Hairballs

Here are four ways to remedy hairballs.

1. Hairball diets

Over the past 15 years, “hairball diets” and “hairball treats” have become common place in the world of cat food. These diets and treats are usually higher in fiber and are thought to help cats pass swallowed hair in their stool. Whether they actually work as advertised seems to vary amongst cats.

2. Hairball Laxatives

Another common remedy is hairball laxatives, typically petrolatum-based (think Vaseline) or oil-based, that is also meant to help a cat pass swallowed hair in their stool. We suggest the oil-based hairball laxatives, but only once a week (not daily). Oil-based hairball laxatives can be harder to find than the petrolatum-based products.

3. Regular Grooming with a Cat Comb

The very best remedy for hairballs (not caused by an underlying medical problem) is regular grooming. During May and June, “regular” can mean twice a day.

Our favorite grooming tool is a nylon comb from the drugstore, or you can purchase a cat comb from a pet store. Nylon combs are inexpensive, their teeth are rarely sharp, and they can be tossed in the dishwasher to clean.

Try dipping the comb in a tumbler of water, tap it on the edge of the glass to remove most of the water, then comb your kitty in the direction the hair grows.

Most, but not all, cats enjoy grooming if it doesn’t hurt. It’s a social thing cats do for each other when they like each other. The damp comb helps pick up more hair, keeps it from flying around your home, cleans the kitty, and prevents static electricity so you don’t “zap” your cat (who would no longer find grooming much fun after that!).

It’s best to start regular grooming as a kitten so your cat, however, even many adult cats like it if you’re gentle.

4. Lion Cuts

Some extra furry kitties come see us for a lion cut because their heavy coats cause them to shed A LOT.

Our nurses love doing lion cuts, and most extra furry cats like them too (however, occasionally we have to provide light sedation to accomplish the task).

Lion cuts involve clipping the fur on the trunk, but leaving the fur on the “ruff” (neck), head, legs, and tail, thus making the cat look like an adult male lion. Older cats usually act pretty kittenish after a lion cut.

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.