It’s National Pet Poison Prevention Month

March is National Animal Poison Prevention MonthunnamedPrecription for Pet Poison Prevention from Dr. Jeanne Klafin, Seaport Animal Hospital

March is National Animal Poison Prevention Month, and this week is Pet Poison Prevention Week. Many common household items can cause serious illness to your pet cat or dog!
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), over-the-counter medications and human prescription medications are two of the most common toxins ingested by pets. KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAHuman foods such as chocolate, grapes, raisins, onions and garlic can also cause harm to our furry friends. Even gums, candies and sweeteners containing xylitol, an artificial sweetener, can have serious consequences if ingested by a dog or cat.

Take action this week! pills-1422509Make sure that all human medications are secured in tamper-proof containers, and are stored in a safe place not accessible to pets, such as an eye-level locking cabinet. If your pets commonly rummage through your purse or bag, be sure to prevent them from eating gum or candy that may be lurking there.

pastel-1402050Did you know that most species of lilies can be fatally toxic to cats? Cats that ingest any part of the plant – even just the pollen – can be susceptible to life-threatening kidney failure. Check out ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control website for a complete list of toxic plants and other substances:

Giardia? What is it and Why Can’t My Pet Get Rid of it???

One of the most pesky “bugs” we deal with as veterinarians is a one-celled parasite called Giardia This probably sounds familiar to you as it’s one of the most common causes of diarrhea in cats and dogs.   It lives inside the intestines as one form called a trophozoite.  Outside the body the trophozoites band together and form a “cyst,” which is found in fecal material.

Animals typically become infected by ingestion of infected fecal material.  One of the most common modes of transmission is contaminated water.  So if your pet is drinking from a puddle in the park, there is a good chance they can swallow the cysts.  There are also some dogs out there guilty of periodic “stool-eating” (we don’t know what the appeal is) that can ingest it in that manner as well.   What also makes this parasite even more of a nuisance is the cysts in the fecal material can actually stick to your pet’s coat.  So if an animal is cleaning himself and happens to ingest fecal material while doing so, he can actually re-infect himself with the parasite.  This can become a problem with animals in close quarters particularly in a dog park or day care situation where these little guys are in constant contact with one another.

If your pet is already infected with Giardia and is being treated, hygiene is a major factor in controlling re-infection.  So after your pet has a bowel movement ,  if you notice there is fecal material stuck to the coat, make sure to clean it off.

Giardia is actually considered a zoonotic organism, meaning humans can get it.   However, it is rare that a person would actually get Giardia from a dog or cat since they would have to ingest the feces of an animal infected with it.   A far more common source of infection would be contaminated water sources.  Campers and hikers are at risk if they drink untreated water from lakes and streams.  We do see some infections in immunocompromised individuals or those that work in nursing homes and long term care homes.

Your veterinarian may test for Giardia by taking a fecal sample and examining it under the microscope in the hospital or sending it out to a separate laboratory.  Giardia doesn’t always cause diarrhea, this is why it’s important to have your pet’s stool tested once a year even if it’s not sick.

This information should not steer you away from all the activities your pet loves, such as day care, dog parks, and any other outdoor activity because the prognosis for Giardia is good.  The actual parasite is pretty wimpy, so medication will take care of it.  We typically use a dewormer called Panacur that goes in the food and an antibiotic called Metronidazole.  This is the most common and effective treatment.

The best thing you can do as a pet owner is pick up your pet’s feces after they have a bowel movement and avoid walking them in areas riddled with other animal’s fecal material.  Also, try to stop them from drinking out of puddles, ponds, or any stagnant water source.  Additionally, bring your pet’s feces in for a parasite check yearly to test for feces.  Giardia can be rather troublesome for veterinarians, but as diligent and informed pet owners, you can prevent an infection.


Dr. Julie Jones

Questions? E-mail:

West Village Veterinary Hospital

Pet Nutrition and Pet Food Label Reading

Do you have questions on what to look for when choosing a diet for your pet? 

What does it mean when it states that it is organic, holistic, lite, light, low fat or that it is made with chicken or beef?

Veterinarian, Dr. Charles Berk will teach you how to accurately read pet food labels and what you should look for when choosing the right diet for your pet.

Join Us for a FREE Pet Nutrition and Food Label Reading Seminar at Animal Haven on Sunday, March 10th, 2013 at 3:00pm.




  • Pets Are Welcome!
  • Bring with you a can or empty bag of your pet’s food.

How to Read Canine Body Language

Did you know that when your dog yawns – he’s not telling you he’s tired, but anxious? Yawning is one of many doggy vocabulary words and often the first offered by puppies.  Did you know that when your dog shakes off – he is trying to calm himself?  When your dog turns his head away from you, it’s not that he’s ignoring you!

Dogs have an amazing language. Learning what your dog is trying to tell you can help boost the relationship and understanding between you and your dog.
Open Mouth Dog

Join Us for this Free Seminar Given by Renowned Dog Trainer, Colleen Safford of New York Walk & Train

Join us on March 5th at 6:30pm at Tribeca Soho Animal Hospital.  Space is limited!  Call (212) 925-6100 or email to to RSVP.