Pet Owners Should Keep these Plants out of their Garden

By Dogs No Comments

We are sooo happy spring is here! I love to garden in my spare time and am always adding to it; finding new plants to fall in love with. With that said though, pet owners need to be careful about choosing their plants. As beautiful as the following flowers are, if ingested, they can be quite harmful to our pets.  

The roots of this seasonal flowering plant are especially dangerous to pets. If ingested, cyclamen can cause severe vomiting and even death.

These flowers contain lycorine, an alkaloid with strong emetic properties (something that triggers vomiting). Ingestion of the bulb, plant or flower can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even possible cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression.

Crystals are found in the outer layer of the bulbs, similar to hyacinths, which cause severe tissue irritation and secondary drooling. Daffodil ingestions can result in more severe symptoms so if an exposure is witnessed or symptoms are seen, we recommend seeking veterinary care for further supportive care.

Popular in many homes and offices, dieffenbachia can cause intense oral irritation, drooling, nausea, vomiting, and difficulty swallowing if ingested.

This popular flowering succulent plant can cause vomiting, diarrhea and heart arrhythmias if ingested by pets.

Lilies are very abundant this time of year and all parts of the plant are toxic. The severity of the signs depends on how much is ingested. Lilies can cause vomiting and even kidney failure for cats.  There are many varieties of toxic plants growing all around us. 

Oleander is an outdoor shrub, popular for its evergreen qualities and delicate flowers. However, the leaves and flowers are extremely toxic if ingested and can cause severe vomiting, slow the heart rate, and possibly even cause death.

If these flowers are ingested, they could cause drooling, vomiting and irregular heart beat.

Tulips and Hyacinths
Tulips contain allergenic lactones while hyacinths contain similar alkaloids. The toxic principle of these plants is very concentrated in the bulbs (versus the leaf or flower), so make sure your dog isn’t digging up the bulbs in the garden.

When parts of these plants, including the bulbs, are chewed or ingested, it can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and esophagus. Typical signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, or even diarrhea, depending on the amount consumed. There’s no specific antidote but with supportive care from your veterinarian, animals do quite well.  With large ingestions of the bulb, more severe symptoms such as an increase in heart rate and changes in respiration can be seen and should be treated immediately by a veterinarian.

Why human food shouldn’t be dog food

By Dogs No Comments

Did you know there are some restaurant chains that have a secret dog menu? Or how about Tim Hortons having to start charging for the dog Timbits because demand was too high?!?! As a fellow dog owner, I know how tempting it can be to feed table scraps to our fur kids. However, as a Vet, I understand how bad that can be for our dogs.  Since dogs have different digestive physiology (compared to humans), I’ve seen the pain and gastrointestinal discomfort your dog can experience from eating something that wasn’t meant for dogs. I’ve also seen how heart-breaking it is for pet owners to learn they made their dog sick… or worse. That’s why for this article, I wanted to share with you the reasons we shouldn’t feed human food to dogs.


There are many foods that we like to enjoy that are toxic to dogs, some of the most common include:

  • Almonds
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic (fresh or powdered)
  • Grapes
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Onions (fresh or powdered)
  • Raisins
  • Avocados
  • Raw potatoes

Aside from the whole foods listed above, there are processed foods containing artificial sweeteners that are harmful to pets such as xylitol. Chewing gum, many candies, even some brands of peanut butter have xylitol.


One of the biggest concerns dog owners come to us about, is their dog accidentally ingesting chocolate. It’s true that chocolate can be very dangerous to dogs, but there’s a lot more to it than that. The ingredients in chocolate that dogs need to stay away from are methylxanthine and theobromine (which is similar to caffeine). Details about how much is poisonous are below. For reference, keep in mind that the average chocolate bar is about 1.5 ounces.

  • DARK & BAKERS CHOCOLATE are the most dangerous to dogs because they contain the highest amounts of theobromine. Consider 0.1 ounce of dark chocolate is about two or three chocolate chips. As much as 0.1 ounces per pound of body weight can be poisonous. That means ¼ cup of dark chocolate chips is poisonous to a 20-pound dog.
  • MILK CHOCOLATE can still be harmful, but in higher doses. Ingesting anything higher than half an ounce per pound of bodyweight is likely to cause chocolate poisoning. An added concern to milk chocolate though is the amount of sugar added during processing. A lot of sugar can also make your dog very sick.
  • WHITE CHOCOLATE has the least amount of risky ingredients, but still has concerning amounts of sugar and shouldn’t be fed to any pet


It’s usually safe to say that a dog who is fed table scraps is also overweight, even if it’s just a little bit. Many dog owners are good about sticking to a feeding schedule with a set amount of food, however, they’re not as good at reducing the amount of food to compensate for the table scraps. It can be helpful to look at the treat from a dog’s point of view. For example, a single ounce of cheddar cheese might not seem so bad, but to a 20-pound dog, it’s the caloric equivalent of a very big cheeseburger.

As you can see, it’s very easy for these little bites and scraps to add up to extra pounds on your pup. Those pounds lead to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and other weight-related issues including joint pain, early-onset osteoarthritis. A good rule of thumb is for your dog to never consume more than 10% of their calories from treats or human foods. So, remember, if you do give him a piece of chicken at lunch, you need to compensate for that at dinner


A side effect of feeding your dog human food is the negative behaviour it reinforces. If your dog knows there’s a possibility (even a tiny possibility) of getting a taste of your dinner, he’ll stare at you with those big, beautiful eyes. While it might be cute to you (because it’s cute to us too), guests may not be so appreciative of your pup’s stare at dinner time.

Additionally, some dogs take their obsession with human food too far by refusing to eat their own food, in hopes of getting the table scraps from their owners. Human food can be a very difficult habit to break.


  • Stick to treats you know will benefit your dog’s overall health and wellbeing.
  • Consider the calories of human food from your dog’s perspective and be sure to adjust accordingly at mealtime.
  • Avoid processed foods. Instead opt for fruits like blueberries, pieces of apple, veggies like cooked sweet potato, fresh cucumber, and lean cuts of unseasoned meat.
  • Never feed from the table or from your plate. Treats should be a reward for training and to reinforce good behaviour, not for actions like begging or to use for reinforcing unwanted behaviours.

If you suspect your pet may have ingested a poisonous substance or food, please call the ASPCA Poison Control Centre in Canada at 1-888-426-4435.

What To Do When Your Dog Swallows Something that is Not Food

By Dogs No Comments

You walk into the room and right before you can say “drop it”, your dog has swallowed a Lego/sock/golf ball… Now what?

Not only have I experienced it with Sashi, our dog, I’ve met hundreds of pet parents who have panicked in those first moments after the object disappears. It’s complete dread, as you try to figure out what to do next. When a dog or a cat choke, it can be a scary situation for any pet parent. This article explores what to do when your dog has swallowed something.

Foreign Objects

Curious dogs and cats explore their world by tasting and chewing, but sometimes they bite off more than they can chew. A dog can accidentally inhale whatever they are chewing on, and that can cause choking. Choking hazards include chew toys, balls, rawhides, bones, sticks, etc.—basically anything that is smaller than the windpipe or back of the throat can get stuck. It is a good idea to only let your dog chew on rawhides and toys under supervision and take away the toy or rawhide when your dog chews it down small enough to swallow.

If your dog appears to be choking on a toy or rawhide, keep calm. A dog who is suffocating will panic and may accidentally bite. Avoid bite wounds and never put your hand in your dog’s mouth to retrieve the item. If your dog can still breathe, take your dog to your nearest veterinarian or veterinary emergency center immediately. If your dog can’t breathe, use the Heimlich maneuver to remove the item.

If your dog passes out, then and only then should you open the mouth and see if you can remove the item. Use both hands to open the mouth and grasp the upper jaw while pressing the lips over the dog’s teeth so they are between the teeth and your fingers. Look inside your dog’s mouth and remove the obstruction if possible. If you can’t remove the object, try using a flat spoon to pry it out of the dog’s mouth.



Depending on the object and how long it’s been since your pooch swallowed it, your vet may recommend giving it time for the object to pass. Or it may be recommended that you bring your dog in immediately to the hospital; this is often your safest course of action. The doctor will likely need to take abdominal x-rays (to help assess the size, shape, position and location of the object), and then, if warranted and safe to do so, the veterinarian may recommended to induce vomiting.


It’s not recommended you induce vomiting without speaking to your vet first. If the item swallowed is an acid, petroleum, or alkali product, vomiting will cause more damage. The same could be said for sharp objects, vomiting them up could cause serious damage.

If it has been less than two hours though, and if safe to do so, your veterinarian may instruct you to induce vomiting at home. This is often done with an agent such as hydrogen peroxide. Ask your vet if you should feed your dog a small meal first. This is recommended to make vomiting easier on your pet, and to cushion the object, protecting your dog as it comes up.

Signs That a Dog Is Choking

If a dog is suffocating, you can see they will be panicking.  A dog may paw at his mouth if something is lodged, though this does not necessarily mean he is choking. Another suspicious sign of choking is an unresponsive or unconscious dog; in these cases, check the throat and mouth for foreign objects.

Primary Cause

Almost any small object can cause choking, though the most common are hard rubber balls and chew toys or sticks that have become swollen due to moisture.



Immediate Care

Be very careful when dealing with a dog that’s choking, as even calm animals will panic when they cannot breathe. Protect yourself by restraining the dog, but do not muzzle your dog.

Removing an item from your dogs’ mouth, while he/she is in a state of panic can be dangerous; another reason we recommend calling your vet first. If you can see the object, and you have an additional set of hands to safely keep your dogs’ mouth open, try to gently remove the item. Be careful not to accidentally push the object further down the throat.

  1. Use both hands to open the dog’s mouth, with one hand on the upper jaw and the other on the lower.
  2. Grasping the jaws, press the lips over the dog’s teeth so that they are between the teeth and your fingers. Any dog can bite when they are panicking, so be extremely careful if you are choosing to do this.
  3. Look inside the mouth and remove the obstruction with your fingers. Sweep your finger across the back of the mouth to feel for any obstruction. *If there are bones lodged deep in the dog’s throat, do not try to pull these out. You will need to take your dog to the vet immediately to have him sedated and the object removed safely.
  4. If you can’t see the item, you may have success sweeping the mouth. Again, this is safer to do when you have help keeping your dogs’ mouth open. To properly sweep, gently drag your finger from the back of the mouth forward. If you can’t move the object with your fingers but can see it, call your veterinarian or the emergency clinic right away.

If the dog is still choking and you can’t see anything in the mouth, or the dog has fallen unconscious, follow these guidelines:

-Seek immediate veterinary care.  If you are unable to do so, for example out in the woods camping, you can consider performing the Heimlich Maneuver.



We can successfully perform the Heimlich manoeuvre on dogs, it’s even trickier than humans.

–          SMALL DOGS: Your dog will likely be panicking but try to lay her gently on her back. With the palm of your hand placed just below her rib cage, push in and up quickly.

          LARGE DOGS: If your dog is standing, wrap your arms around his stomach. Make a fist in on hand, clasping it with the other, push up and forward (into the rib cage). Lay your dog on his side after. If your dog is laying on his side, place one hand on his back for support, and use the other hand to squeeze the stomach up and forward.

The manoeuvre may need to be performed a few times, when done, be sure to check your dogs’ mouth and remove the object. Offer your dog some water and call your vet, it may be a good idea to still bring her in for a check-up. In particular, your vet will be looking for damage to the throat, mouth, and ribcage.

Veterinary Care

It is likely that objects stuck in the throat may have caused damage. Depending on the length of time the dog was without oxygen and the degree of damage to the throat, the dog may require hospitalization after the emergency is addressed.

In some moderate to severe cases, bronchoscopy (whereby a small camera is inserted into the windpipe to visualize and remove the foreign body) may be recommended to assess the damage. Endoscopy may need to be performed to remove an object stuck in the esophagus.  If more foreign material is in the stomach, using the endoscope, it can retrieve the material directly from the stomach to avoid a gastroscopy (open stomach surgery).  X-rays may also be recommended before the procedures to better evaluate the patient, and after to make sure the object is completely removed.

Sometimes foreign bodies, such as bones, that are stuck in the esophagus can cause respiratory distress and mimic choking.


The best way to prevent choking is to treat your dog as you would a small child.  Although, it is almost impossible to stop them from putting objects into their mouths, you should always be present to keep a close eye on what they are chewing – and doing.  Avoid them getting into the garbage, unattended in the garden, for example. Avoid moisture swollen chew toys and sticks and cut up any large pieces of food for them.  Do not give your dog T-bones, or bones of any kind as these are also known to cause choking and fracture teeth.  Never give your dog a bone even if it fits completely inside his mouth.  Take away all bones and chew toys once they can fit within your dogs’ whole mouth.  Many dogs will try to swallow an object once it fits completely inside their mouth.

Country Grove Vet is trained to handle emergency medical cases, including choking or accidental ingestion of foreign material. We also offer anaesthesia and patient monitoring, to keep them safe during and after all surgical and emergency procedures. If you suspect your pet may have ingested a poisonous substance, please call the ASPCA Poison Control Centre in Canada: 1-888-426-4435


Resources – OVC-LifeLearn and Pet MD