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Category Archives: Health Risks

Second plant involved in Diamond Pet Foods recalls

Diamond Pet Foods’ Gaston, S.C., plant has been the source of most of the pet food recalled by the company due to salmonella contamination that sickened 17 people across the U.S. and Canada, but the company’s most recent recall expansion included food produced at a Missouri plant. Some food safety experts say the company’s recall effort hasn’t been efficient and timely enough and that the FDA could have improved its handling of the situation.

Read the full article here

Poison Awareness Month

During National Poison Awareness Month, CATalyst Council Warns of Common Cat Poisons.

During National Poison Prevention Awareness Month, the CATalyst Council warns of common cat poisons.

To mark the start of National Poison Prevention Awareness Month, the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, is reminding cat owners of the following common household items that pose a poisoning risk to their pets.

  • Household plants. Cats are frequently poisoned by nibbling on plants. While most of the time an upset stomach is the only result, there are plants that can kill your cat if ingested. Lilies– especially Easter lilies– are the most common lethal plant. Should you suspect that your cat has eaten a plant, bring the plant (or part of it) to the veterinary clinic so the source of the poisoning can be identified.
  • Human food. Giving your cat table scraps is never a good idea. While most table scraps only lead to stomach upset, there are human foods that pose a risk of making your cat seriously ill, like onion, garlic, chives, chocolate, caffeine and macadamia nuts.
  • Medications. The ingestion of medications, both human and animal, is one of the most common causes of poisoning for cats. Be sure to keep all medications (even the medications prescribed for your cat) in a safe place that your cat can’t reach.
  • Mouse or rat poison. Cats usually don’t ingest these poisons directly; rather, they eat it when they catch a mouse or rat that died or was made ill by the poison.
  • Flea collars and medications. While it’s important to protect your cat from fleas and ticks, it’s just as important to ensure that you are doing so in a safe manner. Cats can be poisoned by flea collars if they ingest them. If you use one, make sure that it is properly secured. If you use a topical flea and tick preventive, be sure to apply it properly as recommended by your veterinarian.

If you are ever concerned that your cat has ingested something it should not have, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s 24-hour Emergency Poison Hotline at 888-426-4435, and make sure you have those numbers handy in case of emergency.

Safely Dispose of Unwanted Medicine

If you have prescription or over-the-counter medicine and for one reason or another, they end up unused, be careful how to dispose of them. Medicine thrown in the trash can end up in our drinking water, lakes, and rivers.

Here are some tips:

  • Don’t flush it
  • Bring it to a local medicine take-back program
  • Mix medicines with cat litter or coffee grounds in a sealable container such as a coffee can before throwing it in the trash
  • Mark out any personal information before recycling your pill bottle

Top 10 Holiday Dangers for Cats

Check out this list of the top 10 dangers for your cats this holiday season!

(ANNAPOLIS, Maryland) November 7, 2011—The holiday season is fast approaching and the CATalyst Council, a national initiative comprised of animal health and welfare organizations working on behalf of cats, is reminding cat owners that there are some things they need to be wary of during this festive time of year.

To help keep our feline friends safe and healthy this holiday season, the CATalyst Council suggests you keep the following top 10 seasonal dangers for your cat in mind:

  1. Dangerous wrapping—Brightly colored bows and ribbons are a festive and enjoyable part of the holiday season, but remember that ribbon can be extremely dangerous for your cat. If ingested, it can cause a cat’s intestines to bunch and get twisted, and in many cases this will need to be remedied with surgery. If left untreated, this can be fatal.
  2. Hanging ornaments—From your cat’s perspective, low-hanging ornaments on a tree are just begging to be swatted at and then played with on the floor. If you have any low-hanging ornaments on your tree, be sure that they are made of materials that your cat can’t chew or otherwise destroy and ingest.
  3. Poisonous plants—While poinsettias have long been believed to be extremely dangerous for cats, the danger they pose when ingested by a cat (stomach upset) is not as bad as some other common holiday plants, such as mistletoe, pine tree needles, amaryllis lilies, red azaleas and paperwhites. If you have festive plants, make sure they are somewhere your cat won’t be tempted to chew on them. If you are unsure if a plant is poisonous, or are concerned that your cat may have eaten something dangerous, call your veterinarian or the ASPCA’s animal poison control center (888-426-4435) for more information.
  4. Candles—Your cat probably isn’t going to be too intrigued by the candle itself, but a wayward swishing tail can easily knock a candle over, causing a host of problems. Keep candles out of reach, and make sure you stay vigilant around lit candles. The last thing you need over the holidays is an injured cat or fire damage to your home.
  5. Holiday foods—While it may be tempting to give your cat just a nibble of turkey or other holiday food, resist the urge. Rich foods can upset a cat’s digestive system, which could produce unpleasant effects. Also, cats should never be given any type of bone, as they can splinter and cause internal injuries to your cat.
  6. Stress—Cats like routine and predictability, so when their schedules or environments change, they can become upset. If you are planning on having holiday guests and your cat isn’t used to entertaining, create a safe, quiet space away from the action where your cat can have some peace and quiet. Dr. Brunt, CATalyst Council’s Executive Director and a feline veterinarian for more than 20 years, adds, “Be sure to have food, water and a litter box available in this secluded area so your cat can be comfortable away from your gathering.”
  7. Tinsel—Like ribbon, tinsel is almost irresistible to cats and, if ingested, it can require surgery to extract. Which would you rather live without: tinsel or a night at the veterinary emergency clinic?
  8. Cats given as gifts— Every companion animal deserves a home where it will be wanted and well taken care of. Shelters nationwide report an uptick in new arrivals right after the holidays, when people surrender the “gift pet” that they may not have wanted.
  9. Christmas tree water—The water that keeps your tree fresh is frequently treated with chemicals that can make your cat sick. Be sure that your cat can’t access the tree water.
  10. Travel dangers—If you are traveling with your cat during the holidays, be sure that your cat is properly secured in a carrier and that he or she has adequate identification, including a microchip. That way, if you get separated, your cat has a way to be reunited with you. Also, prior to leaving home, find contact information for a veterinarian or an emergency veterinarian in the area you’re visiting, so that, if your cat gets injured or becomes ill, you know where to go to get your cat the care and attention it requires.

Enjoy the holiday season with your cat and, as always, if you have questions or concerns, contact your veterinarian. They are your best resource for information about your feline friend.

Rabies Alert


  • CONFIRMED: 10/21/2011
  • RABIES ALERT PERIOD: 10/21/2011 THRU 01/21/2012



September 21, 2011

Duval County’s 4th Rabies Alert of the year is in effect through January 21, 2012 for the JULINGTON area, according to the Duval County Health Department. The Rabies Alert area is bordered on the South by JULINGTON CREEK at DUVAL /ST. JOHNS COUNTY LINE, on the North by INTERSTATE- 295 at WANDERING PINES LANE, on the West by ALADDIN RD at OLDFIELD LAKE CT., and on the East by AUTUMNBROOK TR. EAST at AUTUMN MAPLE CT.

This alert was due to the discovery of a rabid CAT in the JULINGTON area. After further investigation it was determined that there was human exposure involved in this Rabies Alert. Pet owners should maintain control of their pets at all times, and please ensure that each animal has received current rabies immunization shots from a licensed veterinarian.

Stray animals should be reported to the city’s Animal Care and Protective Services at 630-2489. For further information and to report animal bites contact Rabies Control at 253-1280.

Risk of human Salmonella infection associated with dry pet foods

Recent media reports have focused on the Salmonella-related recall of a number of pet food products, and a manuscript recently published in the journal Pediatrics (Behravesh CB, Ferraro A, Deasy M, et al. Human Salmonella infections linked to contaminated dry dog and cat food, 2006-2008. Pediatrics 2010; 126: 477-483. Abstract available at reported on 79 cases of human Salmonella infection from 2006-2008 associated with contaminated dry dog and cat food – this is the first report of human illnesses linked to dry pet foods.

Below are some basic talking points to answer the questions we’ve received about this issue. More information is also available on the AVMA website at

The apparent rise in pet food recalls due to Salmonella is likely due to several reasons:

  • The large-scale, melamine-related pet food recall of 2007 increased public and media awareness of and sensitivity to pet food safety concerns.
  • Increased vigilance of the manufacturers and the federal government regarding Salmonella and other public health concerns, leading to increased surveillance and reporting.
  • The recent launch of an early detection reporting system – the Reportable Food Registry – that requires and allows immediate reporting of safety problems with food and animal feed (including pet food), instead of relying on inspection to identify problems. According to a July 2010 FDA press release, the registry has been very successful in identifying at-risk foods.

These recalls are not an indication that pet foods are unsafe. Considering that the majority of these recalls have been precautionary and no illnesses have been reported, these recalls may indicate that they are preventing illness by catching the problems earlier.

Because pet foods and treats contain animal-origin products, they are at risk of contamination with Salmonella, E. coli, and other organisms. In general, these products are cooked to temperatures that will kill these organisms – however, if a contaminated additive (a flavoring, for example) is added to the food after cooking or if the food comes in contact with contaminated materials, the food will be contaminated. There are many safeguards in place to minimize the risk of contamination during the manufacturing process, but using caution when handling these foods is always recommended.

To protect themselves, their families and their pets from Salmonella infection, common sense measures are critical. These measures are particularly important if you feed your pet raw foods of animal origin (eg, raw beef, chicken or eggs), including raw treats such as raw hides and pig ear chews.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any pet food or treats
  • Don’t allow your children to handle the food; or, if you choose to let them handle the pet food or treats, make sure they thoroughly wash their hands (under your direct supervision) afterwards.
  • Do not allow immunocompromised, very young, or elderly people to handle pet food and treats; or, if they handle the products, they should thoroughly wash their hands immediately after handling the products.
  • Keep all pet foods and treats away from your family’s food.
  • Do not prepare pet foods in the same area or with the same equipment/utensils you use to prepare human foods.
  • Do not allow pets on countertops or other areas where human food is prepared.
  • In the Pediatrics manuscript, feeding pets in the kitchen was identified as an important source of infection. If it is possible for you to feed your pet in an area other than your kitchen, you may wish to consider doing so. If it is not an option, or if you choose to feed your pet in the kitchen, feed your pet as far away from human food preparation areas as possible and follow the other guidelines above.

Dr. Sarah Skinner · Mobile Only Veterinarian · 904-733-3389

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