When Flexibility Takes a Toll: The Not-So-Obvious Dangers of Retractable Leashes

Retractable leashes are convenient but pose safety risks too When you think about your dog’s leash, are you inconvenienced by its sheer lack of complication, or are you rather pleased by the inherent simplicity? It’s amazing to think that something as streamlined as a 6-foot leash requires improvement, but then again the concept of retractable leashes has a place in modern dog ownership. This great debate will continue, but we should all be aware of the hidden dangers associated with retractable leashes.

Is This a Controversy?

Many dog owners are absolutely devoted to retractable leashes, and when used properly, they can be highly convenient. They shouldn’t be used when walking along busy roads, through pedestrian traffic, or near any other potential hazards, like construction sites. They should never be attached to a choke collar. Continue…

I really wish you hadn’t eaten that. Part four, what anyone with pets should know about managing a toxic exposure.

Close supervision and understanding what can be a toxin, will prevent most pets from accidental poisoning. However, I know quite a few dog and cat individuals in our neighborhood who seem hell-bent on living dangerously, and in this post, I will try to summarize the best way to proceed when circumstances beyond our control lead to a toxic exposure or poisoning.

I am not proud to admit that my current canine companion, Tyson, required no fewer than 4 emergency trips to Animal Kind for eating something toxic in his first 6 months of living with me. I still wonder if ASPCA Poison Control has flagged me in their database for calling them so many times about my own dog. Continue…

I really wish you hadn’t eaten that. Part three, houseplants.

There are enough toxic plants on planet Earth to make me feel as a mammal that Mother Nature is out to get me. Luckily, just like most Americans, dogs and cats generally ignore plants. However, there are some exceptions and in this installment I will discuss a few of the plants that we see cause problems for our patients here at Animal Kind. (For a very good set of photos and a rather exhaustive list of toxic and non-toxic plants, I recommend the ASPCA Poison Control website.)

Lily photographed 20 yards from Animal Kind


One of the most common serious plant toxicities veterinarians see is lily toxicity in cats. All parts of a true lily plant, genus Lilium, flower, leaves, and bulbs, are extremely toxic to cats. Any possible exposure should be treated as an emergency with early and aggressive medical care. Kidney damage and possibly kidney failure can occur as much as two days after a cat has swallowed some of this plant. If treatment is delayed until kidney failure occurs, the consequences can be most dire. Dogs are not affected by lilies. Continue…

I really wish you hadn’t eaten that. Part two, chemicals.

In this installment I will reinforce the obvious and appropriate assumption that pets should not eat chemicals that are dangerous for people. Specifically I will focus on a few things that are common toxic exposures for cats and dogs right here in Brooklyn.


One of the most common serious toxicities we see at Animal Kind is the ingestion of various types of rodent poison bait by a dog or less often, a cat. Because these poisons are designed to imitate food, they are usually very attractive to our pets as well as the intended targets. There are many types of these poisons varying in both appearance and toxic ingredients. At the risk of stating the obvious, it is never a good idea, no matter how carefully positioned the poison may seem, to use any of these products in a household with pets. Thankfully, for most of these poisons effective treatment is available if the poisoning is recognized early. Turquoise or red dye added by the manufacturers to most of these baits will be visible in a pet’s stool and can provide an early warning of this type of poisoning, even if no one witnessed them eating it. Due to the potential seriousness and the common use of rodenticides in our area, even a potential exposure is a good reason to see your vet right away. Continue…