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I n f o r m a t i v e A r t i c l e s

Top Ten Plant Poisoning Claims of 2008
by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company
June 14, 2009

The wrath of grapes was, unfortunately, all too familiar for many dogs and cats in 2008. Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (VPI), the nation“s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance, recently analyzed the more than 400 claims it received last year for toxic plant ingestions to find which plants and plant products proved most likely to poison pets. Raisins and grapes topped the list, followed by mushrooms and marijuana. In 2008, the average amount claimed for plant poisoning was $427.

Top Ten Plant Poisoning Claims of 2008:
Macadamia Nuts
Sago Palm

“Almost all plant poisonings in pets can be prevented, but prevention depends on knowledge, thus it is important for pet owners to become familiar with which items can be toxic if ingested,” said Dr. Carol McConnell, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “Prevention is a simple matter of keeping these hazards out of a pet“s environment. To avoid plant poisonings, try not to give a dog table scraps that contain raisins, onions or nuts, and make sure that a new pet is introduced to a backyard free of sago palms, wild mushrooms or other toxic plants.”

Pet owners have good reason to take the threat of grape/raisin ingestion seriously. Even in low doses, ingestion can place pets at risk for acute renal failure. Symptoms include anorexia, lethargy, depression, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. The exact cause is unknown, but some experts think that there may be a toxic component in the skin of the grape/raisin. Treatment by a licensed veterinarian may include inducing vomiting and/or administration of intravenous fluids. Immediate treatment is essential.

The mushrooms most responsible for poisoning pets are the common “backyard” variety. These often grow in grassy places, especially after a heavy rain, and contain toxic components that disrupt the functioning of the digestive tract and liver. If ingested, mushrooms can cause salivation, dehydration, vomiting, diarrhea, and liver failure. The best way to prevent an accidental ingestion is to regularly scan a yard, or any other grassy area a pet may occupy, and pull wild mushrooms up when they appear.

Most mushroom ingestion claims were submitted in late summer and fall. In fact, half of the plant poisoning claims received in October were due to mushroom ingestion. In addition to the top 10 plant poisonings, VPI received claims for ingestion of the following plants or plant products: delphinium, crocus bulbs, hemlock, rhododendrons, gladiolus, tea tree oil, poison ivy, nightshade, tobacco, poinsettia, oleander, brunfelsia, hibiscus, almonds, scarlet pimpernel, potpourri and kalanchoe. Nearly all claims for lily ingestion were submitted for felines.

While not a plant or plant product, fertilizer is another garden variety toxin often ingested by pets. The strong smell of fertilizer can motivate dogs to taste or eat it. Unfortunately, some fertilizers contain organophosphate pesticides which impair the nervous system. In 2008, VPI received 60 claims for organophosphate poisoning. Pet owners can avoid accidents involving fertilizer by not using pesticide-containing fertilizers in an area frequented by pets. As with plant poisonings, prevention of fertilizer poisoning is primarily a matter of observation and knowledge of a pet“s environment.



What Is A Title?
by Sandy Mowery, Wisconsin

Not just a brag, not just a stepping stone to a higher title, not just an adjunct to competitive scores. A Title is a tribute to the dog that bears it, a way to honor that dog, an ultimate memorial. It will remain in the record and in the memory for about as long as anything in this world can remain. Few humans will do as well or better in that regard, and though the dog himself doesn't know or care that his achievements have been noted, a Title says many things in the world of humans, where such things count.

A Title says your dog was intelligent, and adaptable, and good natured. It says that your dog loved you enough to do the things that please you, however crazy they may have sometimes seemed. And a Title says that you loved your dog, that you loved to spend time with him because he was a good dog, and that you believed in him enough to give him yet another chance when he failed, and that in the end your faith was justified.

A Title proves that your dog inspired you to have the special relationship enjoyed by so few, that in the world of disposable creatures, this dog with a Title was greatly loved, and loved greatly in return. And when that dear short life is over, the Title remains as a memorial of the finest kind, the best you can give to a deserving friend, volumes of praise in one small set of initials before or after the name.

A Title is nothing less than love and respect, given and received, permanently recorded.



Just a Dog

From time to time, people tell me, "lighten up, it's just a dog," or, "that's a lot of money for just a dog." They don't understand the distance traveled, the time spent, or the costs involved for "just a dog."

Some of my proudest moments have come about with "just a dog." Many hours have passed and my only company was "just a dog," but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by "just a dog," and in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of "just a dog" gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a dog," then you will probably understand phases like "just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."

"Just a dog" brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. "Just a dog" brings out the compassion and patience that make me a better person.

Because of "just a dog" I will rise early, take long walks and look longingly to the future. So for me and folks like me, it's not "just a dog" but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. "Just a dog" brings out what's good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.   

I hope that someday they can understand that it's not "just a dog" but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being "just a man or just a woman."

So the next time you hear the phrase "just a dog." just smile, because they "just don't understand."

Author Unknown


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