Quick pet poison control tips for any pet owner and what to avoid
Pet poisoning is far more common than you think. The 2018 statistics show that the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) received 213,773 cases concerning potential poisonings. Knowledge and prevention is the first step in keeping everyone in your family safe.
Signs of Poisoning
Many symptoms of poisoning look similar to other illnesses and may include signs like:
● Black/bloody stools
While the curious nature of pets is a given, there are a few specific items you should keep a close eye on.
Most households have prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs on hand, so it’s no surprise that these top the charts as the most common pet toxicants. In 2018, drugs accounted for just over 37 percent of all calls to the APCC. Medications like ibuprofen, cold medicines, antidepressants, and ADHD medications were most commonly ingested by pets, followed by heart medications.
Over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen and acetaminophen are particularly dangerous for dogs and cats. Acetaminophen can cause red blood cell (RBC) injury, difficulty breathing, lethargy, swelling, and vomiting in cats and liver failure, dry eye, and RBC injury in dogs. Even just a single ibuprofen pill can have drastic consequences, including ulcers, anemia, kidney failure, liver failure, and
seizures. If you think your pet has consumed a pill (even an accidental drop of a pill on the kitchen floor), contact your veterinarian right away.
Certain foods that sit well with humans won’t sit as well with your pet. Make sure you keep these away from your four-legged friends:
● Chocolate – It might be one of the most popular foods in the world, but not for pets! Chocolate contains two harmful ingredients for dogs: caffeine and theobromine. These two substances, known as methylxanthines, can lead to medical complications and even death. The three main categories of chocolate to be aware of are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and baking chocolate. Baking chocolate has the highest concentration of caffeine and theobromine and is the most toxic, even in minute quantities. If you suspect your dog has ingested chocolate, contact your veterinarian for help.
● Grapes and Raisins – Believe it or not, chocolate isn’t the only food that is harmful to your dog. Grapes, raisins, and currants can be toxic to your dog, leading to potential kidney failure, anorexia, vomiting, and diarrhea. Keep all foods in that family, including grape juice, raisin bagels, and similar foods out of your pet’s reach.
● Xylitol (sweeteners) – This sugar-free natural sweetener is popping up in all sorts of products, from sugar-free gum and mints to toothpaste, vitamins, food, and candy. While it might make a great sugar substitute for humans, it can be devastating to your dog, with symptoms ranging from weakness and collapse to coma and even death. Xylitol can cause immediate hypoglycemia, liver necrosis, and liver failure and requires immediate treatment.
● Raw meat
Many of these foods have severe consequences for pets, including liver damage, hyperthermia, seizures, and central nervous system depression. Even if your animal is looking at you with their big, begging eyes, it’s best to stick to pet approved foods only. When in doubt – remember no human foods for pets!
3. Household Cleaners/Items
Household items are tricky because they are often things we keep lying around. Items like oven cleaners, lime-removal products, concentrated toilet cleaners, pool chemicals, drain cleaners, and dishwashing chemicals are all highly corrosive. These products can cause severe injuries and burns to a pet’s fur and skin upon contact. If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these products, get in touch with your veterinarian immediately and share the details of what chemical they’ve come into contact with. Provide as MUCH information as you possibly can.
Ethylene glycol, found in antifreeze, motor oil, brake fluid, paint solvents, and windshield deicers, is extremely toxic to pets. Unfortunately, its sweet smell and taste can lure unsuspecting pets to taste it, often leading to deadly results. If you suspect ethylene glycol poisoning, it’s imperative you seek veterinary treatment IMMEDIATELY as the antidote needs to be administered within hours in order for your pet to survive. Without treatment, ethylene glycol is almost 100% fatal.
5. Rodenticide Exposure
Rodenticide is just as harmful to your pet as it is to a rat or mouse. Even when using rodenticides in an area you believe your pet can’t access, rodents can still inadvertently transfer the toxic substances to other locations. This invisible transfer means your animal is more likely to come in contact with the product without you knowing it. We recommend you avoid using this product in your home altogether if at all possible in order to reduce the risk to your pet.
6. Insecticide Exposure
Watch out for carbamates and organophosphates (OP). Found most frequently in rose and flower herbicides and fertilizers, these chemicals can cause symptoms from nausea, tearing, and drooling to hypothermia, seizures, and even death. While the EPA is regulating the use of these chemicals, both cats and dogs can still fall prey to the harmful side-effects these products cause. If you’re a flower gardener, pay close attention to product labels to ensure proper pet poison control.
7. Flea and Tick Products
Remember the carbamates and organophosphates we talked about with insecticides? Those same ingredients can be found in various generic flea and tick products. Be sure to put your pet on a flea and tick preventative that meets the safety standards recommended by your veterinarian.
Although houseplants have many benefits (and for some of us, are used as home décor), you should think twice before bringing certain kinds into your home. Lilies, azaleas, autumn crocus, tulips, hyacinths, Lily of the Valley, daffodils, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Oleander, Dieffenbachia, and Sago Palms are all highly toxic to pets. Play it safe and keep these hazardous houseplants away from your home. A good alternative could be artificial houseplants; they still look nice, but are much safer for your pet!
In Case of an Emergency…
· Be prepared. In case of a pet poisoning or other emergency, family members should all have the number of a preferred vet clinic or another emergency veterinary contact. Post these emergency numbers in a visible spot for everyone to reference.
· Keeping materials like activated charcoal and hydrogen peroxide around the house in the case of an emergency is also a great way to be prepared. Activated charcoal (NOT the kind you grill with!) can help absorb and remove toxicants, and can be administered orally to pets via syringe. Diluted hydrogen peroxide in some cases can be used to induce vomiting in pets to purge toxins. If you think your pet may have ingested or come into contact with poison, call your veterinary clinic immediately. NEVER try to try to administer any of these treatments or induce vomiting in your pet without consulting an emergency veterinarian and/or the poison control center FIRST. The safety of your pet is the #1 priority. · Outside of your vet, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) is your best resource for any animal poison-related emergency, ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435
Although this list of poisonous items to your pet seems a bit daunting, we share this information in an effort to keep your furry family member(s) healthy – and most importantly, safe – for years to come!
Disclaimer: Not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding the medical condition of your pet. If you think your pet has a medical emergency, call or visit your veterinarian or your local veterinary emergency hospital immediately.