Part of the holiday festivities often includes purchasing seasonal plants including holly, mistletoe, and poinsettias. I’m often asked if it’s safe to include these in a house shared with 4 legged family members.
Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia (Euphorbia pulcherrima) plants are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs. According to the Pet Poison Hotline, the milky white sap found in poinsettias contains chemicals called diterpenoid euphorbol esters and saponin-like detergents.
Mild signs of vomiting, drooling, or rarely, diarrhea may be seen if the plants are chewed. If the milky sap is exposed to skin, irritation (including redness, swelling, and itchiness) may develop. Rarely, eye exposure can result in a mild conjunctivitis. Signs are easily treated by your veterinarian and rarely require intensive care.
While poinsettias are commonly “hyped” as poisonous plants, they rarely are, but more worrisome are holiday bouquets containing lilies, holly or mistletoe. Lilies can result in severe acute kidney failure in cats. Holly berries and mistletoe ( American mistletoe is less toxic than the European varieties.)
Use common sense and minimize the chance of your pet contacting one of these popular Christmas plants so all can have a safe and happy holiday!
Recently there was discussion about how we should handle dogs living with a person who tested positive and received treatment for Ebola infection. Some have suggested these pets be euthanized, but I disagree with this.
According to the CDC….
“At this time, there have been no reports of dogs or cats becoming sick with Ebola or of being able to spread Ebola to people or other animals. Even in areas in Africa where Ebola is present, there have been no reports of dogs and cats becoming sick with Ebola. There is limited evidence that dogs become infected with Ebola virus, but there is no evidence that they develop disease.”
A study in 2005 (Emerging Infectious Diseases • www.cdc.gov/eid • Vol. 11, No. 3, March 2005) tells us the following….
“40 of 159 dogs living in the 2001–2002Ebola virus–epidemic area had detectable Ebola virus–specific IgG, indicating either true infection or simple antigenic stimulation.
Some dogs were infected by eating fresh remains of Ebola virus–infected dead animals brought back to the villages, and that others licked vomit from Ebola virus–infected patients. Together, these findings strongly suggest that dogs can be infected by Ebola virus,
and that some pet dogs living in affected villages were infected during the 2001–2002 human Ebola virus outbreak. No circulating Ebola antigens or viral DNA sequences (tested by PCR) were detected in either positive or negative serum specimens, and attempts to isolate virus
from these samples failed. These findings indicate either old, transient Ebola infection of the tested dogs, or antigenic stimulation.”
This means that while dogs can be infected, to date they have not gotten ill or transmitted Ebola to people. The wisest course of action is to quarantine, observe, and test exposed pets to see if they become ill or infectious to humans and to learn more about how they seem to be naturally resistant to the disease. Euthanizing pets exposed to Ebola patients is short-sighted and unnecessary.
Allergies are common in many pets in the fall and spring. Certain breeds such as terriers and retrievers are especially affected. Allergic pets tend to be very itchy, and many have secondary chronic ear and skin infections (the allergies must be treated or these infections will never go away.)
Traditional doctors treat allergies with steroids and antihistamines. Antihistamines rarely work, and steroids can have bad side effects (although tiny amounts used short term WITH natural medicines are safe.)
In my practice we use a combination of herbs, supplements, and homeopathics for my patients. Liver support and immune support using probiotics is also helpful. Frequent bathing with Dr. Shawn’s Itch Relief Shampoo removes allergens and bacteria and yeast that cause the itching.
You can order natural allergy products and my Itch Relief shampoo at www.drshawnsnaturals.com.
In most cases a natural approach works best and medications are rarely needed. Because our goal is true healing and cure when possible (something drugs can’t do,) each patient is evaluated and the treatment is individualized to that patient.
Feeding a natural diet and avoiding toxins such as vaccines and flea and tick chemicals is also critical!
Finally, avoidance of really strong medications like Atopic and Apoquel restores health and reduces side effects to the patient.
With proper evaluation and a focus on natural healing these strong medications should not be necessary.