Two seasonal dangers for pets could send you to the emergency clinic: chocolate bunnies and plastic grass. Local vet Dr. Caroline Patten, of Liberty Vet Clinic, explains why — and offers problem signs to look for, plus steps to take before calling the vet. Allow us to introduce you…
Caroline Patten’s been a Fallser since 2013 — that’s when she and her husband, Bret Asbury (a law professor), bought their twin on Fox Street; she set up Liberty Vet next door in Roxborough soon after.
Bret’s actually from Roxborough, and that’s where they first assumed they’d wind up, until friends who lived in East Falls introduced them to the area. They fell in love with all the green here, and also how close we are to Center City as well as the suburbs and all major highways. Convenience is a huge asset with two young children.
So is our Great Outdoors! They love to walk the Wissahickon together as a family — Gus, 3, and Marlowe, 8, have lots of energy to burn. Recently, they discovered Daisy Field’s playground, a new local favorite spot.
Caroline’s also big on rescue: in fact, we met her thru “Lucky,” a local rescue dog who showed up on Bowman last year in need of medical attention. We got her name thru local animal rescuers — who’d heard of her from Greyhound Rescue when she worked in the Northeast. As an undergrad neuroscience major at Penn, Caroline volunteered at the vet clinic where she realized she enjoyed caring for animals more than the career in research science she’d planned.
These days, she never knows what cases will walk thru her door — she truly enjoys the challenge of every new day. She loves her clients, and working with a great staff of dedicated animal caregivers. She’s eager to engage East Falls pet owners online, now, and we’re delighted to offer her expert advice.
EVERYTHING PETS with CAROLINE PATTEN
QUESTION 1: My dog just ate an 8 oz chocolate bunny, what should I do?
If your dog is a 175lb Mastiff then don’t sweat it. He will be fine. If your dog is a 5lb Chihuahua, then you need to see a vet right away. It is well known that chocolate can be toxic to dogs, but it is the amount and type of chocolate that matters. Larger dogs are able to safely consume more chocolate than smaller dogs.
The type of chocolate is also important. Dark chocolate is more toxic than milk chocolate, and baker’s chocolate is the most toxic. If you are not sure how much chocolate your dog ate it is best to take him to a vet for treatment. Your vet can then institute the appropriate protocol.
The substances in chocolate that are toxic to dogs are caffeine and theobromine. Mild signs of chocolate toxicity may include gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea. More extreme signs include agitation, excitement, tremors, seizures, and heart arrhythmias. Extreme chocolate toxicosis can be fatal if left untreated.
QUESTION 2: Is it OK for my cat to play with Easter grass from the Easter basket?
NO! Cats love to play with Easter grass, tinsel, string, and other linear material. This material becomes dangerous when a cat eats it. Linear material can become lodged in a cat’s intestines and cause the intestines to bunch up. The linear material can then cause an intestinal obstruction, or even a hole in the wall of the intestines.
These scenarios both require emergency surgery to fix and both can be life threatening. Signs that your cat has an intestinal obstruction are anorexia, vomiting, a painful abdomen, and lethargy. If your cat shows any of these signs after playing with Easter grass or string, he should go see a vet. It is safest to not allow your cat to play with string. Stick to toys that are too large for your cat to ingest.