Original article by Elizabeth Gigis, DVM, West Chester Veterinary Center
A common misconception among dog owners is that all fruits and veggies that are safe for humans are safe for animals. Also, Ibuprofen relieves a person’s fever, so many owners think that it is safe for their pets. Does rat poison only hurts rats? Canine physiology is very different from human physiology. Many things that are safe for us can be deadly to our pets. It is important to know the most common toxicological emergencies, and how to address them. One day, it may save your pet’s life.
Fruits and veggies are good for humans and most are good for dogs too! However, all fruits are NOT made equal. It has been found that grapes and raisins may cause kidney failure in large doses in dogs. It is not well understood exactly the way the grapes affect the kidneys, but the toxicity is well documented. It is thought that 1/3 pound of grapes could potentially be toxic to a 10 pound dog. The symptoms usually start with diarrhea and vomiting and develop within a few hours. Acute kidney failure can occur within 48 hours and has been associated with some fatalities. Onions also may be toxic in large doses, causing anemia. This means that the onion affects the red blood cells, which carry oxygen.
Ibuprofen is commonly used by people to reduce fever and help alleviate pain. It is logical to think that it may be useful for use in pets, but this is incorrect. Ibuprofen ingestion in dogs can cause symptoms that range from vomiting and diarrhea to sudden death. It is very toxic and medical attention should be sought immediately with any dog exposed to ibuprofen.
Antifreeze toxicity is a common problem because it only takes a small amount of antifreeze to cause severe kidney damage. The antifreeze converts in the body to a compound which will precipitate and cause mineralization of the kidneys. Treatment must given within a few hours to be affective. The most common signs of antifreeze ingestion are lethargy, ataxia (pet walking like they are drunk), seizures and vomiting. The treatment for antifreeze toxicity is very effective if given immediately and may save your pet’s life. Pet safe antifreeze is also available for use in vehicles. New federal guidelines have recently been enacted requiring that antifreeze have a bitter, rather than sweet, taste.
Many herbal products and vitamins may be toxic to dogs and cats. Ingestion of aloe may cause vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney inflammation. Garlic ingestion can result in anemia (low red blood cell count), allergic reactions, asthmatic attacks, and contact inflammation of the skin. This is important to note because many people give garlic and an herbal preventative for fleas. Lily of the Valley may cause cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting and diarrhea. Also, multivitamins made for humans contain the improper amount of vitamin content for pets. If a dog ingests a human multivitamin, the most common toxicities associated are iron toxicity, Vitamin A toxicity, and Vitamin D toxicity.
Rat Poison is toxic not only to small mammals, but also to our pets. Rat poison can cause severe bleeding if not treated within 48 hours after exposure. Rat poison interferes with the way that your pet clots his blood, by decreasing the levels of vitamin K in his system. This can cause severe problems within several days, but is very treatable. Oral vitamin K can be prescribed by a veterinarian to prevent bleeding problems, if given quickly enough. If bleeding problems have already manifested, then more intense therapy may be needed, including blood transfusions.
An important first aid treatment to have at home is hydrogen peroxide. If your pet eats something toxic at home, you may give 3% hydrogen peroxide at 5 mLs per 10 pounds. Some things should not be vomited up. This is because there is a risk of your dog inhaling the substance (aspiration pneumonia) or lacerating (tearing) the esophagus on the way up. If you are unsure about whether your dog ate something that is safe to make them vomit up, please contact a veterinarian.
The number for the Animal Poison Control Hotline, which is available 24/7, is (888) 426-4435. There is a consultation fee for calling. The Animal Poison Control Hotline has an extensive database of toxicological information.
Elizabeth Gigis, DVM
West Chester Veterinary Center
7330 Liberty Way, West Chester, OH 45069
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.