San Francisco Dog Walker – Save your pet with CPR

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

The San Francisco Dog Walker shares CPR steps to saving a dogs life!

San Francisco Dog Walker-Dogs-CPR

Toxic Cocoa Mulch

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

San Francisco Dog Walker - Cocoa MulchCocoa Mulch, which is sold by home Depot and various Garden Supply stores  contains a lethal ingredient called ‘Theobromine’, which is lethal to dogs and cats. Cocoa Mulch is a mulch that is used for retaining moisture around plants in the garden and is popular because it smells like chocolate, which is also, really attractive to dogs. They can ingest this stuff and die. Several deaths already occurred in San Francisco.

The ingredient Theobromine is in all chocolate, especially dark or baker’s chocolate which is toxic to dogs. Cocoa bean shells contain potentially toxic quantities of theobromine.  A dog that ingested a lethal quantity of garden mulch made from cacao bean shells developed severe convulsions and died 17 hours later in San Francisco. Analysis of the stomach contents and the ingested cacao bean shells revealed the presence of lethal amounts of theobromine.

Toxic Raisins

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Written by: Laurinda Morris, DVM
Danville Veterinary Clinic
Danville , OH

This week I had the first case in history of raisin toxicity ever seen at MedVet. My patient was a 56-pound, 5 yr old male neutered lab mix that ate half a canister of raisins sometime between 7:30 AM and 4:30 PM on Tuesday. He started with vomiting, diarrhea and shaking about 1 AM on Wednesday but the owner didn’t call my emergency service until 7 AM.

I had heard somewhere about raisins AND grapes causing acute Renal failure but hadn’t seen any formal paper on the subject. We had her bring the dog in immediately. In the meantime, I called the ER service at MedVet and the doctor there was like me – had heard something about it, but… Anyway, we contacted the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center and they said to give IV fluids at 1 & 1/2 times maintenance and watch the kidney values for the next 48-72 hours. The dog’s BUN (blood urea nitrogen level) was already at 32 (normal less than 27) and creatinine over 5 (1.9 is the high end of normal). Both are monitors of kidney function in the bloodstream. We placed an IV catheter and started the fluids. Rechecked the renal values at 5 PM and the BUN was over 40 and creatinine over 7 with no urine production after a liter of fluids. At that point I felt the dog was in acute renal failure and sent him on to MedVet for a urinary catheter to monitor urine output overnight as well as overnight care.

He started vomiting again overnight at MedVet and his renal values continued to increase daily. He produced urine when given lasix as a diuretic. He was on 3 different anti-vomiting medications and they still couldn’t control his vomiting. Today his urine output decreased again, his BUN was over 120, his creatinine was at 10, his phosphorus was very elevated and his blood pressure, which had been staying around 150, skyrocketed to 220. He continued to vomit and the owners elected to Euthanize.

This is a very sad case – great dog, great owners who had no idea raisins could be a toxin. Please alert everyone you know who has a dog of this very serious risk. Poison control said as few as 7 raisins or grapes could be toxic. Many people I know give their dogs grapes or raisins as treats including our ex-handler’s. Any exposure should give rise to immediate concern. Onions, chocolate, cocoa, avocados and macadamia nuts can be fatal, too.

Look out for Deadly Mushrooms

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Amanita phalloides, the death cap mushroom, has come out in full force since the rains started Dec 2009. We had one death at Lake Veterinary Hospital 2 weekends ago, and PETS emergency clinic in Berkeley called on Friday and said they have had 3 deaths in 6 days – all  from the Oakland area. The mushrooms have a sweet odor (like honey) and are attractive to some dogs   (whose owners report they actually seek them out to eat them).  They are  really non little white mushrooms. The toxic effects appear about 6-36 hours after the mushrooms are eaten, and once signs are seen the toxicity is poorly responsive to treatment (we try a lot of things to support the animal, but if enough mushrooms were eaten it will be fatal despite the treatment).  If someone suspects their dog may have eaten a mushroom, the best treatment is to take the dog immediately to a vet or emergency clinic and have them induce vomiting and give activated charcoal.  The mushroom toxin is absorbed fairly rapidly, but the damage to the liver can take hours before it is clinically apparent.  Don’t waste time trying to figure out if the mushroom is toxic as speed in removing the mushroom from the digestive system is the most important thing in my experience.Here is a link with some pictures

Although most SF/local mushrooms are not poisonous, and those that are usually cause only digestive upset (perhaps causing someone to wish they would die), Death Caps (Amanita phalloides) are aptly named. After an initial digestive upset death caps prevent liver cells from regenerating. Within a few days after ingestion there are no new liver cells to replace the old ones, and liver failure occurs. The below message describes death caps as “little white mushrooms.” Note: They might look like that in the early stages, but mature mushrooms can grow quite large (check yahoo group for photo of mushroom I’m holding in hand)  and they have a slight metallic, greenish look. Check out the wikipedia link for photos of death caps in various stages. I have seen death caps south of SF and in the east bay. There might be some in SF. The common “white mushrooms” I’ve seen in SF, e.g. growing in lawns, are not death caps (various Agaricus–see photo). Death Caps have WHITE GILLS (e.g. the radiating blades on the underside of the cap), while most of the “lawn” mushroom have brown gills. At Fort Funston beneath the trees, I’ve spotted white-gilled mushrooms, but they have shaggy scales on the cap (see photo). Not death caps. Possibly Lepiota rachodes. Don’t take a chance w/mushroom, especially death caps. Supervise your dog. If you spot death caps, you might discretely bag them up & securely dump them to prevent other dogs/people from eating them. Since I currently have a curious puppy who thinks everything is to be sampled, I’m bagging up all the mushrooms I find in my yard mainly to prevent potential digestive upsets

Hemlock in Our San Francisco Parks

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

San Francisco Dog Walker Hemlock 2       San Francisco Dog Walker- HemlockSan Francisco Dog Walker- Hemlock 3

Maybe you have seen this plant at a San Francisco dog park? . . . I took these pictures at Stern Grove.

I was told by a former San Francisco city parks gardener that this plant is called Hemlock and is very poisonous to dogs!

What makes it particularly troubling is that is grows in abundance and it grows next to that tasty grass your dog loves.

If you see this plant, keep your dog away!

Do you know your Poisons?

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Here are the ones to look out for!

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) Ibuprofen (Advil) can cause gastrointestinal irritation, stomach ulcers, and kidney damage in dogs.

Naproxen (Aleve) has a long half-life in dogs and can cause gastrointestinal irritation, anemia, melena (digested blood in feces), and vomiting.

Antifreeze is very dangerous to dogs and causes central nervous system depression and acute renal failure. Treatment needs to be within eight hours of ingestion to be successful.

Mouse and rat poison ingestion is common in dogs. Most rodenticides in the United States are anticoagulant by depleting Vitamin K. This type is the most frequent cause of poisoning in pets. Third generation products contain brodifacoum or bromadiolone and are toxic after a single ingestion. Signs include spontaneous and excessive bleeding internally and externally. Treatment is with Vitamin K supplementation. Other rodenticides may contain cholecalciferol which causes hypercalcemia and leads to heart and kidney problems. Newer rodenticides may contain bromethalin which causes central nervous system signs such as seizures, muscle tremors, and depression.

Insecticides used in dogs for fleas and ticks commonly contain either organophosphates or carbamates. they can be absorbed through the skin, conjunctiva, gastrointestinal tract, and lungs. Organophosphates inhibit acetylcholinesterase irreversibly and carbamates inhibit cholinesterase reversibly. Toxicity occurs through overdosage with an appropriate product or use of an agricultural product. Signs for both include hypersalivation, vomiting, lethargy, tremors, difficulty walking, weakness, and death.

Chocolate is a common cause of poisoning in dogs. The toxic principles in chocolate are theobromine and caffeine. Baker’s chocolate is the most dangerous form since it contains higher concentrations of these drugs, followed by semi-sweet, dark, and then milk chocolate. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, difficulty walking, seizures, and heart problems.

Lead poisoning is uncommon in dogs. Exposure to lead is from eating paint chips from lead-based paint (found in houses painted prior to 1950), and eating lead objects such as shot, fishing sinkers, or counterweights. Signs of poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, blindness, seizures, and tremors.

Raisins and grapes are potential causes of kidney failure in dogs.

Researchers Say You Can Give Your Dog The Flu

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Scientists claim that we can now give our pets the flu virus and that some people’s pets have died as a result. It worries researchers because it means that there is a possibility of transmitting diseases to animals, which opens a new can or worms in terms of mutations, new viral forms and evolving diseases.  Oregon State University recently reported this information and recommends that if you have the flu or a cold, to try to stay away from your pets as much as possible, while you are contagious.

Tales From a SF Dog Walker- Dirty Puddles and Dead Seals

Tips from a SF Dog Walker

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

I came upon a Dog Walker in McLaren Park while he was on his cell phone discussing an issue with one of his clients. As he was preoccupied and had his back to his pack of dogs, he didn’t notice that one of the dogs was drinking from a muddy puddle of water. As a fellow SF Dog Walker, I thought I would help him out by shooing the dog away from it. When he got off the phone, he said that I need not bother doing this in the future; that he lets his dogs drink from puddles and has been doing so for over 10 years and nothing has happened yet. He then reminded me of the time that I informed him that one of his dogs was eating a dead seal on the beach. He informed me that the dog had been eating dead sea lions on the beach for years and nothing had happened yet.

As a SF Dog Walker, I know from research that puddles in San Francisco Parks are often sources of drinking water for racoons, rats and other wildlife and can cause a dog to develop bouts of vomiting, diarrhea, by infecting the dog with Giardia, a water borne disease. Additionally, if a dog is eating dead or coming into contact with dying seals on the beach, they are potentially being exposed to Leptospirosis – a serious and deadly situation.

These two diseases are currently very active in San Francisco and both are contagious to dogs and humans and can be passed from dog to human. What this means to the average San Franciscan is that the family dog may be exposing your family to very serious illnesses if they are regularly drinking from muddy puddles in the parks or eating dead or dying seals on the beach.

Highly Recommended Activity – Puppy Socials

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Why should my puppy attend a Social?

Puppy Socials are hour-long play sessions where puppies get to play off-leash in a supervised setting. Puppies who get to play with lots of different puppies during their early months learn how to communicate better with other dogs, learn confidence around other dogs, and are much more well-adjusted as adults.
Just playing with other dogs in your house or the neighbor’s dog isn’t enough – they need to learn to be comfortable around unfamiliar dogs too.  Dogs have different communication styles and the more dog language your puppy understands the less likely there is to be a misunderstanding between dogs. Supervision is important when puppies play too. Shy puppies can get bullied and become fearful.

Also, at this young age a puppy is learning how to use their teeth.  We want them to learn how to inhibit their bites so that their teeth don’t damage other dogs or people when they’re adults.  Simply telling them “NO” when they bite won’t teach them anything about jaw pressure.

Who is eligible to attend Puppy Socials?

Puppy Socials are for puppies aged 8 weeks to 6 months.  Check the Internet to find one that fits your needs.

What you need to know about tennis balls

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Does your dog love to chase after tennis balls? Even, perhaps, a little obsessed about it?

Something you need to keep in mind is that a tennis ball is made of abrasive material that can quickly wear down your dog’s teeth. Some dogs love them so much that their teeth have ground down to little nubs. This is important because a dog must have their teeth last a lifetime and you definately want to protect them whenever you can.

If you want to nip this problem in the bud, change to rubber balls. Rubber does not have the abrasive properties like the green tennis balls you see at all the dog parks. Why do most people not change to rubber? Not all dogs have problems with tennis balls, so just keep an eye on your dog’s teeth to determine if you need to make any adjustments. Also, they are costly, especially if your dog likes to leave them behind in the bushes.

Anxious Dog?

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker


I have heard about using Benadryl to calm an anxious dog down, but now there is new evidence that Melatonin might work better in some dogs.  Dog owners who are interested in a natural treatment for behavioral problems should ask their veterinarian about melatonin for dogs. Melatonin is a neurohormone, and it can be used as a sedative. There is no specific formulation of melatonin for dogs. It’s manufactured in human formulation, and the FDA has not actually approved its use in dogs. Veterinarians often prescribe it for a number of different treatments in dogs. Melatonin does not require a prescription. The human formulation is sold under the brand name Melatonex®, and it can be found in generic form simply labeled as melatonin.

Many owners have successfully used melatonin for dogs that are anxious or display other behavior problems. It can help calm a dog that becomes frightened at loud noises, such as thunderstorms, fireworks, or other sounds. The medication is often prescribed for canines that suffer from separation anxiety, such as when their owner leaves the house to go to work. Some dogs become overly excited at night and begin pacing or otherwise become a nuisance while the household is trying to sleep. Melatonin often works to calm a dog down enough so that it can rest.

Does your dog have chronic diarrhea?

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Then you need to try Firm Up! made by Diggin Your Dog.
This amazing supplement made with 100% natural pumpkin works as a great anti-diarrhea, and oddly enough, it’s good for constipation too!

Pumpkin tastes good to dogs. Add a little to their daily diet, or use as a supplement when the “runs” strike…

Firm Up! is also a great product to use when your dog is transitioning to a different diet. The fiber helps digestion and makes the switch easier.

Firm Up! is 100% USA GROWN dried pumpkin. Pumpkin is low in fat and dense in nutrients such as Alpha-Carotene, Beta Carotene, Fiber, Vitamin C & E, Potassium, Magnesium, and Pantothenic Acid. Find it online for about $8.

Dog’s Left Home Alone

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker

Avoid the routine of crating your dog all day.

This can lead to future behavior problems.

The crate is a safe place for the dog to rest, but it doesn’t teach the dog good habits.

Use a crate wisely.

Don’t overuse it.

How Old is Your Dog, Really?

Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker


Do you multiply your dog’s age by 7 to find out how old they are in human years?

No, that’s the wrong way to find out, according to the following websites.

The important factors are the dog’s size, its age, and breed.
The websites below will help you to determine your dog’s real age.