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Spring Hazards

Everyone looks forward to spring with its fresh air, colorful flowers, and sense of renewal.  But there are many hazards associated with this season.  We should always be on guard when it comes to our pets and potential dangers.
    Many areas of the country have a problem with snails; people often put snail bait in their garden and flower beds.  The most common snail bait contains metaldehyde that is very toxic to pets.  Dogs will readily ingest it and will start to show symptoms in a few minutes to a few hours.  Tremors and twitches can progress to seizures.  One company manufactures Sluggo Slug and Snail Bait containing iron phosphate that is much safer for pets.

The Easter holiday can bring its own set of problems.  Easter lilies in an arrangement of cut flowers or outside in the garden are very dangerous for cats.  Ingesting even a small amount can cause kidney failure in cats.  Early signs may be lethargy, drinking excessive amounts of water, and then not drinking enough, and a poor appetite. Signs of worsening kidney disease are vomiting, diarrhea, and eventually anemia.   

Other Easter dangers include the plastic fake grass placed in baskets.  Pets ingesting this can obstruct or the plastic grass can actually cut the intestine and cause peritonitis.  Cats are especially prone to eating these linear foreign bodies.  Symptoms are vomiting, lethargy, and not wanting to eat.  Other items in those Easter baskets, such as chocolate, plastic eggs or toys, can also cause illness if ingested.   

Warm weather that comes with spring also brings parasites, especially fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes.  Fleas can carry tapeworms, cause allergies and skin problems, and in some areas of the country carry plague.  Ticks can carry several diseases that can be transmitted to pets and people:  Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Ehrlichia.   Mosquitoes transmit heartworms to dogs and cats.   All dogs and cats should be on a monthly heartworm preventative and monthly flea and tick control.

Some areas of the country have a problem with foxtails, a seedpod from a weed.  These seedpods have very sharp barbs that can penetrate skin or the foxtail can migrate up nostrils, into ears, eyes, or any orifice.  Once inside the body they can still migrate, even into the chest, abdomen, or brain.  Signs include sneezing, draining tracts in the skin, shaking the head and ears, or squinting of an eye.

Spring brings many people into their yards and gardens.   New landscaping materials can also be dangerous.  There is a popular new product, cocoa bean mulch, which is a byproduct of chocolate production.   It is attractive and has a great odor, unfortunately dogs also think it tastes great!  It contains theobromine, and its ingestion causes methylxanthine toxicosis.  Symptoms are vomiting, tremors, and increased heart rate, even seizures and death can occur.

When landscaping your yard, take into consideration if the plants can be toxic to pets.  There are numerous plants that are poisonous, with a variety of toxins and symptoms. Many just cause mild symptoms such as drooling or an episode of vomiting, but some plants are very dangerous, for example oleander and sago palms, and can easily cause death if ingested.  The ASPCA  Animal Poison Control Center  web site is a good source of information for all types of poisons and toxins. 


Poisonous Plants

Both indoor and outdoor plants can be toxic. This is a list of the more common plants that cause problems:
 1. Lilies.  Most lilies, not just Easter lilies, are toxic to cats.  Any species of the Lilium  family should not be used  if cats are present.

2. Sago palms.  All parts of this palm are poisonous, but the seeds are the most toxic.  Ingestion of Cycas revoluta causes liver failure.
3.    Oleander.  All parts of Nerium oleander are toxic.  Ingestion causes heart arrythmias, hypothermia, and even death.
4.    Tulip and Narcissus bulbs.  Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal symptoms, drooling, depression, loss of appetite, seizures, and heart abnormalities.
5.    Amaryllis.  This is a common spring flower that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, and poor appetite if ingested.
6.    Azaleas and Rhododendron.    Ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, depression, coma, and death.
7.    Castor Bean.  The highly toxic ricin, potentially used in bioterrorism, comes from the castor bean.   Ingestion causes vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, tremors, seizures, coma , and death.
8.    Cyclamen.   The highest concentration of the poison is in the root of the plant.  Symptoms are intense vomiting; death has been reported.
 9. Pothos. This popular household plant can also cause oral irritation and gastrointestinal symptoms.

10. Yew.  Ingestion of Taxus species causes tremors, incoordination, vomiting, diarrhea, heart failure, and difficulty breathing.
-English Ivy.   Hedera helix, if ingested, can cause drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.

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  •           8/29/2017

    I love Balboa Pet Hospital! Balboa Pet Hospital's staff is amazing! The staff is knowledgeable, caring and above all honest! I feel confident that my pets are getting the best possible care there. The staff has always taken time to answer all of my questions and if I think of something after my appointment, I can just email! I know I won’t have to wait too long for response.

    Unfortunately, this year I’ve had to make some really difficult decisions. The compassion the staff showed to both my pet and I made these unbearable times tolerable. I am indebted to both Dr. Del Rosso and (the wonderful) Dr. Ravn for their kindness, compassion and dedication.

    If you are new to the area or just looking for a new vet, please give Balboa pet Hospital a call!

  •           6/5/2017

    LOVE everything about this place!!! The people are all super nice & caring. I never feel like they’re trying to sell me stuff I don’t need. The vets (especially Dr. Alice Chan) are wonderful, I always fee; comfortable coming here whenever Walle has an issue. They even help me file the insurance claims after each visit! Would highly recommended any pet owners to see them for their fur-baby needs.

  •           6/5/2017

    My dog has been a regular patient since 7 years ago. Once in a while we visit other hospitals due to time conflicts. However, we always go back to Balboa Pet Hospital. My dog has bad allergy and the doctors and assistants always follow up with us after the treatments or visits, help us submit the insurance claims. It’s not a cheapest place to go but their patience and caring are irreplaceable.

  •           4/28/2017

    I’m glad to have found Balboa Pet Hospital near my home. It’s definitely a hidden gem! Dr. Chan saw my dog, Oreo, for her skin problem last week, and my three cats, Pepper, Tofu and Cola, today for annual check-up. She’s very patient (especially with Oreo who’s shy to strangers), knowledgeable and approachable. The front staffs are also very friendly and helpful. They are so prompt to reply my email (within a few hours when I checked back my mailbox). All my pets are about 1-year-old and I’ll definitely bring them here for their health issues/checkup in many years followed.

  •           5/4/2017

    Brought my dog here for a checkup and some minor concerns. Dr. Chan was very professional. She got my dog the treatment he needed and answered all my questions regarding my concerns. The rest of the staff were very friendly and gentle with my dog. You could tell that the staff are genuine animal lovers; definitely something you want when you entrust the health of your pet to someone.

  •           5 of 5

    Been bringing our animals to Balboa for over 25 years and will continue because they provide great advice and care. We love Dr. D and staff are really helpful and friendly. Now if I can find medical care for myself like my animals get at Balboa...

  •           5 of 5

    I have been a patron of Balboa Pet Hospital for almost 500 years now (wink). I love Everybody there and feel they are have always been a great resource and the BEST support system for everything pertaining to my pets.


    The staff is very kind and gentle, the doctors are very caring and patient when dealing with my scared cat Lulu. I appreciate the time they took to put her at ease and making this procedure as painless as possible for the both of us. Will definitely be spreading the word. Thank you Balboa Pet Hospital.

    Linda P.

    San Francisco, CA

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