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Avoiding Unintentionally Poisoning your Pet

Dr. Heather Moeser, MS, DVM & Brittney McLamb NCSU-CVM Vet Studentblog

Downtown Mobile Vet

Did you know that many common household items are potential poisons to your furry children?  Below are a list of common small animal poisons that your pets may come contact / ingest while in their environment.

Top 10 Small Animal Toxins
1) Human prescriptions such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) used to treat depression. Common clinical signs in small animals include sedation or central nervous system stimulation, anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, seizures, hyperthermia (increased body temperature), diarrhea and abdominal pain

2) Amphetamines, such as those used to treat ADD/ADHD and narcolepsy and illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, crystal meth and ecstacy. Clinical sings of intoxication include agitation, tremors, seizures, tachycardia (increased heart rate), vomiting, diarrhea, hypersalivation, and panting.

3) Sleep aids such as Ambien and Lunesta. CNS signs of intoxication range from depression ataxia, and paresis to hyperactivity, anxiety, agitation and tremors. Other clinical signs include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, panting and hyperthermia.
4) Grapes, raisins, and currant. These common household foods have been linked to acute renal failure in dogs that ingested them. Clinical blog 2signs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy dehydration, anorexia, and abdominal pain. Kidney failure may be present as soon as 24 hours after ingestions.

5) Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as those that containing ibuprofen and naproxen sodium (Advil & Aleve) pose a risk for toxicosis, With NSAID toxicosis the GI tract, kidneys, CNS and platelets can be affected. With cats, severe renal failure is most commonly seen with NSAID toxicosis. Clinical signs include decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, black tarry feces, abdominal pain, lethargy, malaise and dehydration.

6) Acetominophen (Tylenol) is an over the count analgesic and antipyretic used in human medicine. This drug is safe for human use, however it has a narrow margin of safety in dogs and cats that can develop severe toxicosis. In cats, lethargy, swelling of the face or paws, respiratory distress, brown mucous membranes, cyanosis, vomiting and anorexia can occur. In dogs, hepatic injury is more likely which presents as malaise, anorexia, hepatic encephalopathy (neurological symptoms from liver disease), vomiting, black tarry feces, and icterus (yellow mucous membranes).

7) Xylitol is a sugar free sweetener found in diabetic snacks, foods, mouthwashes, toothpastes, chewing gum, mints, candies and chewable vitamins. Sugar-less products with Xylitol listed in the first five ingredients can result in severe toxicosis within the first thirty minutes of ingestion. Clinical signs associated with toxicity include, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, collapse, anorexia, and hypoglycemia.

8) Rodent bait stations can be toxic to pets and clinical signs will not be present until 48 hours after ingestion. These include sever GI signs (vomiting, bloat, abdominal pain), CNS signs (tremors, seizure), and pulmonary signs (pulmonary edema and increased heart rate).

9) Household cleaners. Most surface cleaners are non-toxic and upon ingestion can result in minor GI signs. However, some concentrated cleaner can be toxic and corrosive to your pet. Appropriate pet proofing is the easiest way to prevent this toxicosis.

10) Batteries. When the casing of a battery is punctured there is risk of alkaline or acidic material to leak out, which can result in severe ulceration to any exposed tissues. Lithium button type batteries are the most dangerous and necrosis of the GI tract can occur within 30 minutes of ingestion.

What to do if you suspect your pet has ingested toxic material and how to prevent it?
 The first step in preventing an accidental toxicosis is to adequately pet proof your house and to educate yourself on what items could pose a danger to your pets. A valuable resource for education and general knowledge about potential household hazards or to ask about toxin related questions is the Pet Poison Helpline. This is a 24/7 Animal Control Center that has many beneficial Internet resources and staff on hand to answer any questions. If your pet ingests a toxin please call your veterinarian and/or the pet poison hotline immediately. The sooner your pet is diagnoses, the easier, and safer and less costly it is to treat!


HYPERTHERMIA AND HEAT STRESS IN YOUR PET by Drs. Stephanie Morgan and Heather Moeser

Drs. Stephanie Morgan and Heather Moeser

Downtown Mobile Vet – 919-917-8312 –



Exercise is good for you and your pets.  However, have you ever decided to take a run mid day during the summer time?  After recently making that choice in this Hot Temphot weather, I am still feeling the effects of it.  I felt dizzy, and I couldn’t catch my breath, but it seemed like such a beautiful sunny day and I am a regular runner.  It reminded me that although exercising on a beautiful day is usually good, it could also be dangerous, especially for your pets.  Make sure you assess the weather before you exercise your pet to avoid hyperthermia and heat stroke in your pet, potentially life threatening diseases.  There are 3 common clinical signs to look for and 3 things that you can do if you suspect your pet to have an elevated body temp or heat stroke.



Common causes of hyperthermia (body temp > 103 °F) and heat stroke (body temp > 106 °F) are environmental conditions or situations including hot humid day, mistakenly being confined to an area with limited ventilation (i.e. NO CAR RIDES) or too much exercise and decreased water access.




  1. PANTING/ DROOLING – If your dog is excessively panting or drooling then they need to come inside to AC and get attention.  Dogs naturally pant as a cooling mechanism, but they should be able to control their breathing to some extent if not overheated.
  2. DIFFICULTY BREATHING – is your pet unable to catch their breath or having difficulty breathing.  Other signs may include brick red gum color and increased heart rate. These pets need to be seen by your veterinarian immediately.
  3. ABNORMAL WALKING – if your pet is moderately to severely overheated they may experience stumbling, stupor, or becoming unresponsive. These pets need to be seen by your veterinarian immediately.


Other clinical signs include bloody diarrhea, seizures, and death.

If you have done your best to avoid the causes of hyperthermia and heat stroke and you feel your pet is showing some of these signs then there are some actions thatDog in pool can be done in your home for mild cases.  Please recognize that Moderate to Severe cases need to go to the veterinarian immediately for intravenous fluids and medications.




  1. WATER – Big ol’ bowl of water! You can help cool your pet by giving cold water.  Additionally, a baby swimming pool may offer some relief during these hot days.
  2. RUBBING ALCOHOL – you can put cold water/rubbing alcohol on your paw pads and the inside of their ear flaps.  These are the only places where your dogs and cats can perspire. This will cause evaporative cooling which is another natural mechanism that animals use to regulate their internal temperature.
  3. AC/FAN – decreasing the environmental temperature gradually and increasing the ventilation can also help decrease your pet’s mild hyperthermia.


If you have any questions how your pet is responding or if the initial steps are not helping then you will need to bring your pet to the veterinarian immediately for advanced diagnostics and possibly hospitalization.  Summer weather is great; we just need to be careful when we enjoy it. Heat stroke is a serious diagnosis and can quickly lead to irreversible changes in your pet’s health including death.


3 Things You Can Do To Assess If Your Pet Is Not Feeling Well

Let’s face it, not everyone has a niece that is a veterinarian that you can call for advice when their pet is not acting right. Many times this happens on a weekend or during evening hours when most veterinary clinics are closed.  It is a struggle to decide whether to bring your pet to the veterinarian and how much is it going to cost!  When in doubt, it is always better to bring your pet to the veterinarian or emergency veterinarian because a veterinarian’s complete physical exam is invaluable.  In the meantime, there are some things that you can do at home that can help you decide whether you need to see a professional immediately or if you can wait.

Vital Signs  

Temperature: Any thermometer can be used to obtain a rectal temperature – As expected; many pets prefer a flexible tip fast digital thermometer.  The normal range is between 99.5 – 102.5 ⁰F (dogs) and 100.5 – 102.5 ⁰F (cats).

Heart rate: The heart rate can be counted by palpating the heart in the most dependent portion mid chest or by feeling the femoral artery located on the inside portion of the mid-thigh.  The normal rate can be counted for a full minute or estimated by counting for 15 seconds and then multiplying by 4.  The normal rage for heart rate is 60-160 (dogs) and 140-220 (cats).

Vital Sign Dogs Cats
Temperature ⁰F 99.5-102.5 100.5-102.5
Heart Rate (Pulse) 60-160 140-220
Respiratory Rate 10-30 24-42
Mucous Membranes Pink Pink
CRT <2 seconds <2 seconds
Table 1 Approximate Normal Ranges for Vital Signs










Respiration: The respiratory rate is counted while the pet is not panting or purring and at rest.  Again, count to 15 and multiply by 4 or count the breaths during a full minute.  The normal range is 10-30 (dogs) and 24-42 (cats).

Mucous Membranes:  The mucous membranes can usually be assessed by lifting your pet’s lip and observing the gums.  Note the color of the gums.  Normally, the gums are pink in color, indicating good peripheral blood circulation.  If they are pale or white it can be a sign of anemia or shock and yellow a sign of liver disease.

CRT – Capillary Refill Time: The CRT is the rate in which blood refills empty capillaries.  To perform this test apply light pressure to your pets gums until they become pale and count how long it take for them to return to their original color.  Any time less than 2 seconds is normal.  This can be a sign or decreased peripheral blood perfusion and dehydration.


Lightly palpating your pet for lumps and bumps on the surface of their skin and/or any discomfort they may have can be helpful.  Gently raise your pet’s skin to check the turgor.  If it takes longer for the skin to go back into place this can also be a sign of dehydration.  Feel your pet’s abdomen to assess if it is tight, soft, uncomfortable, etc.  Be aware that your pet could experience extreme discomfort during this process and be careful not to surprise them or cause them pain that could result in them biting someone.  If you have any doubts then you need to bring them immediately to the vet.


You know your pet best!  You are the best judge of your pet’s behaviors and if they are feeling sick or not acting right.  Trust your gut.  Additionally, if you have a “fufu” pet then keep in mind they may be feeding off of your worries and responding to your emotions.  Is your pet eating, drinking, peeing, and pooping normally?  Are they hesitating when offered a treat, not as active, not going up or down the stairs, and getting on the bed?  Write your observations down including time and it can help you realize if something is not right.

In conclusion, if your pet is experiencing anything outside these normal ranges of objective parameters (vital signs) or subjective findings (pain, abnormal behaviors) then either call your mobile vet or grab your keys and seek medical attention immediately.


Flea Prevention

Forget About Fleas with the Right Flea Prevention for You and Your Family.
These days there are a number of flea preventatives to choose from including a bath in dawn soap to kill adult to monthly topical and oral preventatives that also prevent heartworms and gastrointestinal parasites. It can be overwhelming, but to simplify how to choose just listen to the fleas themselves they can help you decide:
F – Friendly.  Ensure the product is friendly to both the environment and your pet. Avoid preventatives that can create toxicities in your pet. Generally, these are older products with great packaging that can be safe when used carefully, but can have severe neurological consequences if your pet is given an overdose. Additionally, many spot-on products for dogs contain higher concentrations of permethrin, a synthetic pyrethroid. They are derived from Chrysanthemum spp. Natural pyrethrins are less stable and potent than synthetic products. Use caution when using these preventatives on your pet. Additionally, do not use spot on preparations for your dogs on your cats. The two species have differences in their metabolism and will cause severe toxicity. Consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions.
L – Lifestyle.  Consider your lifestyle and activity with your pet. Does your pet swim or get bathed frequently? If yes, then an oral preventative rather than a topical flea preventative may the better choice for your family. Are you forgetful or have difficultly remembering if you gave the flea or heartworm? It may be best to give an oral tablet or topical solution that does flea, heartworm and intestinal deworming.
E – Effective.  Your flea preventative must kill and prevent fleas in order to work. There are some products that may work better for your environment and flea population than others. It is important to make sure you are applying it correctly and not removing your topical preventative with shampoos that strip the product from your pet’s hair or sebaceous glands.
A – Affordable.  There is a wide range of flea preventatives available. Be sure to consult with your veterinarian or veterinary staff to discuss all the options, including those available over the counter. Keep in mind that preventing fleas helps save you money when considering the other illnesses your pet can experience secondary to a flea bite or infestation. These include exposure to tapeworms, which require special costly deworming to eliminate the infection. Multiple trips to your veterinarian for generalized dermatitis or hot spot (skin infections) treatments. Additionally, some pets become ill from blood loss or anemia. Fleas are sucking your pets’ blood by the way. FYI if you are in a bind, a one-time adult flea treatment can be a bath with Dawn dishwashing soap. Keep in mind that this detergent could irritate our pet’s skin.
Overall, flea gives us a great acronym to use to help remember how to prevent and treat for them.  It should be FRIENDLY, meet you and your pet’s LIFESTYLE, be EFFECTIVE, and AFFORDABLE.   Remember, veterinarians are nice people and we do not mind answering any of your questions about these and other pet health concerns.  We are here to help.


5 Things Your Pet Needs When Going under Anesthesia

  1. PRE-ANESTHETIC BLOOD WORK – the internal organ function blood tests gives your veterinarian a glimpse of how your pet’s internal organs are functioning – liver, kidneys, etc.  Once your veterinarian reviews the results, they can make important decisions on the anesthesia protocol they will use and make changes it accordingly.  For instance, if your pet has slightly elevated liver values indicative of sub-optimal liver function, your veterinarian can use this information to select an anesthetic drug that is metabolized less in the liver.  Your veterinarian also could postpone any elective procedures if they feel your pet is too high of a risk for anesthesia.  Many times your veterinarian may allow you to decline this test – but there is risk involved.  Furthermore, you can opt for more extensive blood work to include additional internal organ values and a complete blood cell count.  This more extensive blood work is recommended yearly after your pet is 2 or 3 years of age.
  2. INTRAVENOUS CATHETER AND INTRAOPERATIVE FLUID THERAPY – having an intravenous (IV) catheter is important for your pet when they have IV medication given and for routine maintenance IV fluid therapy.  If there is any unusual anesthetic events during the procedure it is helpful to have an IV catheter already in place, therefore any drugs needed for arrhythmias or life threatening situations can be administered immediately.  IV fluids allow for the maintenance of your pets fluid volume and blood pressure.
  3. MONITORING – during the procedure your pet should be monitored for proper heart rate, oxygen saturation, blood pressure, and temperature by a trained assistant. Additional monitoring devices including a pulse oximeter, capnograph, esophageal heart monitor, and / or Doppler or automated blood pressure monitor will enhance the monitoring capabilities while you pet in under anesthesia.
  4. MANAGEMENT / EXAM –Your veterinarian should examine your pet before and after the procedure and determine if your pet is fully recovered from the procedure.  Additionally, your pet may need additional drugs before, during and after the surgery.  This can range from pre-operative antibiotics and/or pain medications, including nerve blocks, or epidural injections, to intra-operative and post-operative medications.  Many veterinarians do not allow for owner’s to opt out of additional pain medications if needed.  There may be an additional charge involved.
  5. EDUCATION – A good veterinarian – patient – client relationship is essential and will help you understand what to expect for your pet during and after anesthesia and surgery.  Often this is explained as the discharge instructions and is given by a veterinary technician or assistant.  Although discharge instructions are often clearly written and very helpful, it is best to ask any questions before an unexpected problem arises at home so that you know how to react quickly.  For example, many pets can experience nausea after general anesthesia – so offer your pet a small amount of water when you get home first and if they keep it down then you can offer a small amount of food.  If they keep that down, then they most likely are not having symptoms.  If they do vomit, then they need more time and wait to introduce anything for 2 more hours.  If vomiting continues or your pet has not eaten, or seems to have not fully recovered for any reason within 24 hours, you will need to contact your veterinarian immediately.

OVERVIEW – Anesthesia has risks, but these risks can be minimized with additional steps that are not considered an option in human medicine. Ask your veterinarian for more information.


6 Key Signs of Dental Disease in your Pet

6 Key Signs of
Dental Disease:

  • Discoloration
  • Bad breath / odor
  • Redness of gums
  • Drooling
  • Discomfort chewing
  • Tooth loss

Similar to your own teeth, normal eating activities will result in plaque and tartar build-up on your pet’s teeth. If left for a long period of time, tarter will continue to build-up on the surfaces of the teeth and can physically grow into the gingiva (gums) causing inflammation and pain. The real problem begins when the associated bacteria proliferate, produce toxins, and begin to destroy normal gingival structures inciting even more inflammation and pain. In some cases, this inflammation can cause bone loss which leads to loose teeth and necessary extractions. In fact, it is common that bacteria can be absorbed into the blood supply within the gingiva. In severe cases, this can cause systemic disease, including infections in the heart, liver and/or kidneys.

Dental Scaling
& Polishing


Dog Dental Scaling Before Treatment


Dog Dental Scaling After Treatment

Key signs of dental disease that you may notice include discoloration on your pet’s teeth, redness of the gums, drooling, and/or bad breath. In addition, your pet may experience discomfort or difficulty chewing and eating and may even lose teeth. Routine home care through the form of brushing, chewing devices that help your pet brush their own teeth and/or special treats or diets are necessary to reduce this build-up. In many cases, a yearly dental cleaning by your veterinarian is necessary to remove all the plaque and tartar build-up, reduce inflammation and pain, and thus help provide the best health for your pet. Furthermore, annual dental cleaning has the added benefit of getting rid of “doggie” breath. February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Please contact your veterinarian for more information and the importance of your pet’s dental health.


Welcome to Dr. Heather Moeser, MS, DVM

Heather Moeser, MS, DVM

Heather Moeser, MS, DVM

We are delighted to announce a new addition to our Pet Pantry family, Dr. Heather Moeser, MS. DVM.    Doctor Moeser will be sharing her considerable experience and wisdom with us all on our new web site blog.

The most exciting thing for us is that Dr. Moeser also has an advanced degree in pet nutrition.   You will be able to ask Dr. Moeser questions and get answers right here on the Pet Pantry blog!

There is one more thing that we really appreciate about Dr. Moeser – like the Pet Pantry, she delivers high quality veterinary care RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR!  That’s right, Dr. Moeser is “The Downtown Mobile Vet.”   So, visit her web site and give her a call!  We’re sure she’d appreciate it.

Dr. Moeser is best known for her compassionate care and “down to earth” approach to veterinary medicine.  She works with you and takes the time to answer all of your questions and concerns about your loved ones. She understands that takes a partnership between your family, your pets, and your veterinarian to provide the best care for your pet. Dr. Moeser has a Master’s degree in Animal Nutrition from The University of Georgia and received her veterinary degree from North Carolina State University – College of Veterinary Medicine in 2005.

Please join us in welcoming Dr. Heather Moeser.  Visit her at “The Downtown Mobile Vet.” or call her at 919.917.8312 and let her know you much you appreciate her.