Stream Valley Veterinary Hospital

42902 Waxpool Road
Ashburn, VA 20148-4525


Holiday Tips

 Pets sometimes have a really hard time adjusting to the increase in family activity around the holidays. They may not handle the stress of houseguests well. Often just scheduling a few minutes at approximately the same time each day to spend playing with your dog or reviewing those obedience exercises can make the holidays a lot easier for an anxious canine. Cats are a little harder to reassure, and it is sometimes best to make sure they have a safe haven in the house where the guests can't find them, especially the very young guests. Make sure their litter pan is private, too.

Remember that cats and dogs, especially puppies and kittens, will eat anything. Non-food items lodged in your pet's digestive tract is yet another emergency condition. Don't let curiosity kill your cat or your dog. If you take a little time to prepare and think about the special risks holidays impose, your pet should be safe. Just in case, make sure you know the number of the emergency veterinary hospitals in your area.  It is a good idea to just drive by it to be sure that you can find it in an emergency when you may not be thinking as clearly as on an ordinary day.

Warmest Regards,

Mary A. Corey, D.V.M



Winter is upon us, and it is time to change the antifreeze, wage war against field mice in search of warm quarters, plan holiday menus, and stock up on Christmas ornaments and candy. Sounds like a season of happy holidays at first, but in reality, to your pet, it could become a nightmare. A few of the potential dangers follow:


Antifreeze: Antifreeze has a sweet taste and is readily consumed by children and animals if they have access to it. Five teaspoons can kill a 10-pound dog, and 1 teaspoon (5 ml) could kill a 7 pound cat. It is very fast acting and results in kidney failure and death in as little as four to eight hours. Please be aware and store new antifreeze in its original container away from and out of reach of pets and children. Keep the empty container or a record of the product used so that if your car leaks and your pet finds it before you do, you can tell your veterinarian what was consumed. Dispose of old antifreeze in a sealed container; don't hose it down the driveway. Always have fresh water available for your pet. A thirsty pet may relieve its thirst with antifreeze that a neighbor left out or hosed down the driveway. If you think your pet has consumed antifreeze, call your veterinarian right away. The really bad thing about antifreeze poisoning is that treatment must be initiated very promptly for the pet to survive.


Rodenticides: Rodenticides that kill the rodents hoping to hibernate in your house will also kill your pet. They cause severe bleeding, kidney failure, and death. There are no safe rodenticides. Whether out of hunger, boredom, or curiosity, pets will consume these products. If rodenticides are used in your home, put them in places inaccessible to pets and children. Keep a record of the products used, and in case of accidental poisoning, contact your veterinarian immediately.




Chocolate: Chocolate is a favorite people-treat at Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, but it is toxic to dogs, cats, and birds. The initial signs of chocolate poisoning are those of stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. If sufficient chocolate is consumed, an animal will become restless and uncoordinated and will suffer heart failure and/or respiratory failure. As little as one ounce of baking chocolate or eight ounces of milk chocolate can kill a 10 pound dog. Like other poisonings, chocolate poisoning requires emergency medical treatment.


Holiday Meals: Holiday meals can also cause medical emergencies for pets. Chicken and turkey bones can get stuck or can pierce holes in any portion of the digestive tract. Rich and fatty foods can cause sudden life-threatening pancreatitis or bloat. Pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas, occurs when something sets off the inflammation. Digestive enzymes are released within the pancreas itself, so that the pancreas starts to digest itself. As the digestive enzymes wreak havoc on the pancreas, they break down barriers to the bloodstream. Having digestive enzymes in the bloodstream quickly leads to the destruction of cells and tissues everywhere. The enzymes start chewing up cells and tissues all over the body. Keep holiday meals, leftovers, and table scraps out of reach of your pet. If your pet insists on participating in the feast, cooked vegetables (without the butter and salt) or commercial dog treats are safe in small amounts.




Cold Weather: Indoor pets not acclimated to winter temperatures should not be left outside in cold weather for long periods. Outdoor pets can withstand fairly cold temperatures if they have shelter from wind and rain and have bedding to insulate them from the cold ground. Avoid electrical heating devices that could electrocute your pet if they got wet or were chewed. Outdoor pets need extra food in cold weather to generate body heat, and they need access to water that is not frozen. Keep your pet's feet clean and dry. Ice or salt will cause severe irritation when caught between your pet's toes. Frostbite is a winter hazard to pets as well as people. Frostbitten areas are fragile and should be wrapped snugly for protection from abrasion and from sudden temperature change. Severe frostbite requires emergency treatment.


Christmas: One "toxic" plant that you don't have to worry much about is the poinsettia. These plants are either nontoxic or only slightly irritating to the gastrointestinal tract, depending on the reference source. On the other hand, mistletoe berries are extremely poisonous, and it is best to be very careful when hanging mistletoe so that pets are not exposed to the berries. Even one or two berries of this plant may be fatal. Tinsel strands seem to be very attractive to cats, and these can cause severe problems.  If they are ingested, they often require surgical removal to prevent the death of the cat. Keep Christmas tree ornaments, lights, and extension cords out of the reach of your pets in case they decide to chew on them.




New Year's  
New Year's brings in a brand new year filled with the promise of hope, prosperity, health, and happiness! While we are celebrating, let's not forget the potential dangers to our four-legged, furry family members. 

Did you know that alcoholic beverages could be potentially dangerous to pets? Alcoholic beverages pose much the same temptation and hazard to dogs as to humans. A drunken dog displays behavior that is comparable to that of an intoxicated person. Depending on the amount ingested, alcohol can potentially result in vomiting, diarrhea, in-coordination, central nervous system damage, depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, acidosis, coma, and even death.

Hops, the plant used to make common beer, can cause malignant hyperthermia in dogs, usually with fatal results. Even small amounts of hops can trigger a potentially deadly reaction. Wine is made from grapes, which are also dangerous to dogs. Grapes can cause vomiting and diarrhea and then signs of kidney failure, with the onset of severe kidney signs starting about 24 hours after ingestion. Even the ice cubes from the alcohol beverages can be dangerous. Keep in mind that the ice cubes absorb whatever is in the glass with them.

It may be humorous to witness an intoxicated dog, but please remember the dangers and be extra cautious with your party drinks!!!! Let's keep EVERYONE safe and happy during our celebrations!


Valentine's Day



Most of us find chocolate hard to resist, especially around Valentine's Day, when giving or receiving chocolate is inevitable. Your dog may find it difficult to resist also, and this is where trouble may occur.

Chocolate is not a treat for our dogs. It can actually be toxic to them. It can make dogs ill, and in some cases it can even be fatal. Never feed dogs chocolate, and make sure that all chocolate is stored safely out of your dog's reach. 

Chocolate has a high fat content; as a result, your dog may suffer vomiting and diarrhea after eating it. Chocolate also contains a caffeine-like alkaloid called theobromine, which stimulates your dog's nervous system and can lead to seizures or other harmful side effects.

The effect chocolate may have on your dog depends on his size, what kind of chocolate he ate, and the amount consumed. Baking chocolate contains a lot of theobromine, and is therefore very dangerous to your dog. Your dog could experience mild poisoning after eating only 0.1 ounces per pound of his body weight. Although there is less theobromine in some chocolatefor example, milk chocolatethis does not make it a safe treat for your dog. Mild poisoning may occur with 0.7 ounces of milk chocolate per pound of body weight, or severe poisoning at 2 ounces per pound of body weight. It is important to remember that all chocolate is bad for your dog. This also goes for anything that contains chocolate: cookies, chocolate bars, baking supplies and candies.

Your dog may not show symptoms of chocolate poisoning right away; however, if he does, some symptoms may include, but are not limited to, the following:

o   muscle twitching,

o   increased urination,

o   vomiting and diarrhea, and

o   increased panting and restlessness.

Chocolate Wrappers:These also pose a danger to dogs. Wrappers are a choking hazard and could possibly cause an intestinal blockage. Dogs may be attracted to the smell of chocolate on the wrapper and may try to swallow it as a result. Please dispose of wrappers in a place where your dog cannot get to them.  Keep Valentine's Day happy and safe by storing all chocolate out of reach of all four-legged, furry family members!

If you suspect your dog has eaten any chocolate or wrappers, call your veterinary here at Stream Valley Veterinary Hospital or the your nearest emergency hospital immediately.