Barbara Venezia...
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Stasha Speaks!  April 2018

Spring flowers – lovely to look at…but not ingest


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April showers bring May flowers is how the saying goes. And though Springtime flowers are beautiful, if ingested by us critters they can be deadly. 

Rocco and Stasha

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(L-R): My brother Rocco and I – ready for Springtime showers

Rocco and I love the Spring rain. My buddy and I put on our raincoats splashing around the yard as things begin to bloom. But our mom keeps a watchful eye on us – especially Rocco, because that dog puts anything and everything in his mouth! He’s a curious dog willing to eat most anything, which could get him in big tummy trouble.

If he were to dig up plant bulbs and munch on them, it could be deadly. Plants with bulbs like tulips, daffodils, narcissus, and hyacinths, can be particularly dangerous to dogs, especially the skin at the bottom of the bulb. Dogs eating these flowers or bulbs can experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or worse.

“More severe symptoms as a result of larger ingestions can include increased heart and respiratory rate, foreign body obstructions, and, in rare cases, cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats),” according to

If you’re not familiar with Pet MD, you should be. It’s a good website to keep up to date on the latest recalls of pet products, as well as overall information on animal health issues to stay abreast of.

But getting back to dangerous plant-eating for dogs, it’s what’s in bulbs that can be deadly for us furry pals.

Tulips and hyacinth, for example, contain lactone, which when chewed or swallowed, can cause tissue irritation to our mouths and esophagus.


Daffodils contain lycorine, an alkaloid with something that triggers vomiting.


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Lilies are especially tricky because there are several different types – Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies which contain oxalate crystals can cause tissue irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx and esophagus – resulting in minor drooling. Potentially fatal lilies are Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show varieties – all of which are highly toxic to cats too! Even small ingestion (such as two – three petals or leaves) can result in severe kidney failure.


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There are two crocus plants: one that blooms in the Spring (Crocus species) and the other in Autumn. The Autumn Crocus is highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, liver and kidney damage, and respiratory failure.


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Other plants equally as dangerous to dogs are azalea/rhododendron, foxglove and oleander.

For a complete list of symptoms, plants and fertilizers pet owners should be aware of for the safety of their animals, Nationwide Pet insurance’s page on Summertime Toxins is a good reference. Visit a good phone number to keep handy is the Pet Poison Helpline’s emergency hotline (1.855.289.0358) available 24 hours a day.

If you suspect your animal has eaten something in the yard that could be dangerous, the first rule of thumb is to get them to a vet at once.

Stay safe this Spring and enjoy the flowers – just don’t eat them. 

Bark at ya later,

Woof Woof


You can email me at, and check out my past columns at

Stasha Speaks 2018 

Stasha Speaks! (and this one is eye-opening)


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Stasha strikes a perfect pose

High blood pressure, are you kidding?

That’s what I was thinking last month when the vet announced to my doggie mama that my blood pressure was 275 and dangerously high. Apparently, the normal blood pressure range for dogs is 100 - 150!

Surprisingly, high blood pressure in dogs and cats is more common than you think.

The bad news is that it’s rarely diagnosed in time to save the animal’s eye sight. Routine annual vet check-ups don’t include blood pressure testing.

I was lucky to be diagnosed early, because I visit Eye Care for Animals Veterinary specialists in Tustin once a year. That’s because when I was two years old – I’m six now – Mom started noticing a blueish colored dot on my left eye. Because of my age at the time, our regular vet suggested we just watch the spot over time to see if anything changed.

Within weeks it got larger and that’s when we were referred to a specialist at Eye Care for Animals:

I was diagnosed with a fast growing cataract, and if surgery wasn’t performed quickly, I’d lose sight in the eye. Cataracts are not uncommon in older dogs, but in younger dogs it’s rare, but can be a result of a scratch or eye injury – which I hadn’t had. In even rarer cases, it could be due to genetics – and that apparently were the cards I was dealt.

During surgery, it was discovered I also had lens damage, and had a lens replacement. Though it sounds scary, the surgery and recovery were pretty non-eventful for me. I do have prescription eye drops administered once a day for the rest of my life to keep that lens eye healthy. And that’s a small price to pay to save my eyesight, so I don’t mind it.

We visit the eye doctor once a year measuring pressure behind my eyes, and he does a bunch of other tests to ensure my eyes are healthy. On my January visit, the doctor noticed tiny blood vessels behind my eyes had started to break – an indication of high blood pressure which leads to blindness, or worse…stroke.

Thankfully we caught my high blood pressure in time the doctor said. As you can imagine, my Mom asked a lot of questions as to why I developed this condition. I’m a chill dog, not some crazy nervous wreck.

My diet is well controlled, and I never get to eat people food, no matter how much I beg. As it turns out, high blood pressure is commonly a secondary symptom as a result of heart disease, kidney disease or abdominal tumors. Food doesn’t play into this equation in animals. After a battery of tests showing I had none of these, it was determined again, I’m one of the rare cases of being hereditarily predisposed to this condition.

Now, in addition to my daily eye drops twice a day, I take a blood pressure pill. 

Thankfully, my blood pressure has dropped within normal range.

My situation should serve as a cautionary tale to all dog and cat owners to request a blood pressure check at every vet appointment to get a baseline reading. 

At my brother Rocco’s last appointment, Mom requested a blood pressure check on him, too. As crazy as that dog is, his blood pressure was normal, so go figure.


Rocco, Stasha’s brother sells blood pressure machines specifically made for cats and dogs. We bought one for $49.99, that’s easy to use.


CONTECR automatic blood pressure monitor tonometer

Here’s a helpful link to the CONTEC automatic blood pressure monitor tonometer:

Be sure your dog or cat owner orders the correct cuff size, and it’s a good idea to take it to your vet to properly learn how to use it. Though our vet says it’s not as accurate as his office machine, it’s close enough and is a good way to check for blood pressure spikes in between office visits.

Needless to say, my experience here has been eye opening.

To learn more about eye conditions that can cause blindness to cats and dogs, visit

Bark at ya in a few months again,

Woof  Woof


You can email me at, and check out my past columns at