It’s that time again. Spring is upon us, and my neighbors are fertilizing their lawns and spraying all kinds of insecticides to kill bugs. It always makes me nervous when they’re poisoning up their adjacent yard; I’m sure some of the toxic chemicals migrate over into our space. To educate myself, I consulted the Pet Poison Helpline and saw that they have an updated list of potential poisons in our homes and yards.
The Pet Poison Helpline is a valuable resource for pet people. They log every call they get, and each year they examine their records to determine what type of poisons garnered the most calls. So even though we’ve written other articles here on the CANIDAE RPO blog about the plants, foods or chemicals that can be hazardous to your pet, as a responsible pet owner it’s good to stay updated on the subject. With that in mind, here are the most common dangers for dogs, listed in order of the frequency of calls into the helpline. Interestingly, the list starts with food items because food accounted for the highest number of poisoning calls.
1. Foods, especially xylitol, chocolate and grapes/raisins
Xylitol is getting a lot of attention lately because of claims that tout its health benefits, including reducing the risk of tooth decay. Many sugarless gums and candies now contain xylitol, and this sweetener is dangerous to dogs. Even a small amount ingested by your pup can result in a potentially fatal drop in blood sugar or even liver failure.
Most of us know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. The chemical in chocolate that makes it dangerous for dogs is theobromine, which is a relative of caffeine. The darker, bitter chocolates are the most dangerous. The fact that raisins and grapes are toxic foods for dogs isn’t as widely known. Be cautious; if a dog eats raisins or grapes it can result in kidney failure.
March is poison prevention month, and it’s a reminder to reflect on what you have planted in your yard, and what you have stored in the garage, basement and around the home. It’s also a good time to think before you plant dangerous garden plants in areas your pets have access to. The time you take to check for poisons in and around your home can save your pet’s life. Make sure your home and yard are free from poisons.
Poison prevention month is meant to bring awareness to the dangers of accidental poisonings, not only for pets, but for humans as well. On September 16, 1961, Congress designated the third week in March as National Poison Prevention Week. Every year, poison control centers from across the country report more than 2 million incidents of accidental poisonings with over 90 percent happening in the home. Although the majority of victims of nonfatal poisonings are children, pets are also at risk of accidental poisonings because there are a lot of toxic products and food in our homes that pets have easy access to.
Thousands of pets are poisoned every year, with an up-tick in cases reported during the holiday season when cats and dogs have more people food available to them that can be toxic and kill them. Chocolate, alcohol, walnuts, fatty meats, grapes and raisins are on a long list of people food that can poison pets. The best way to keep your pet safe is to avoid giving people food altogether, and just stick with a high-quality pet food such as CANIDAE or FELIDAE. A pet’s begging eyes may be hard to resist, but an emergency trip to the vet after an accidental poisoning could be expensive and heartbreaking.
Antifreeze is extremely toxic to pets. It doesn’t take much to poison a dog or cat. The dangers with antifreeze are that it has a sweet taste pets are attracted to, and it’s pretty easy for pets to find little puddles of antifreeze in driveways or on streets. If you spill antifreeze while adding it in your car’s radiator or if your radiator boils over, clean up the spill immediately to keep your pets safe as well as any neighborhood pets that may wander onto your property. Snow globes contain a small amount of antifreeze in the liquid, but it’s enough to poison pets and children if a globe is broken or cracked. For more information on antifreeze poisoning, visit the Pet Poison Helpline website.
As responsible pet owners, we all want to do everything we can to keep our furry best friends safe so they can live a long and healthy life. Because our pets can’t discern whether something is good or bad for them, they rely on us to keep the dangerous stuff out of the house, or at least out of their reach. Because knowledge is power, today I want to share with you some of the most common causes of pet poisoning.
A pet insurance company in California analyzed data from approximately half a million insured pets to compile a list of toxic substances that pose a danger to them. Common pet poisons found in the home (in order based on the number of claims) include medicine, chocolate/caffeine, plants, cleaning supplies, pest control products, antifreeze, walnuts and alcohol. Depending on the substance ingested, pet poisoning can occur quickly and can be fatal.
Once you know what’s in your home that could harm your pet, you can take preventative safety measures. Even so, you should be prepared in case of an accidental poisoning. Keep the number for your regular veterinarian and the closest emergency vet hospital handy, as well as a pet poison hotline. As the saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Many human medications can be quite dangerous for dogs and cats even in small doses. Pets have been known to sample pills they find on the floor, so be sure to keep all prescription drugs and over-the-counter pills like painkillers, cold and allergy meds, vitamins and supplements stored in your medicine cabinet. Poisoning can also occur with pet medicines and nutritional supplements if they are misapplied or stored where your pet can get to them and subsequently consume more than they should.
Chocolate and caffeine both contain a substance called methylxanthine, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures. See “Chocolate Toxicity in Pets” for more information.
When it comes to responsible pet ownership, there’s no such thing as being too prepared, or having too much information. We all know how important it is to keep the telephone number for our pet’s veterinarian close at hand. We also need to have the number and location of the nearest emergency vet hospital in case our pet gets sick or injured on weekends or after hours. In addition to those two essential telephone numbers, there are many others a pet owner might need at one time or another.
In an emergency, it’s much better to be prepared and know who to call than to be frantically searching for a phone number. The one thing you do NOT want to do in an emergency is search the internet for phone numbers. This is likely a waste of time because, as I discovered while doing research for this article, much of the information is outdated and the numbers are disconnected. I’ve only included numbers here that I could verify. Some are toll free numbers, but others may incur long distance charges depending upon your phone service. Also note that some may only be staffed Monday through Friday during regular business.
● ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 1 888 426 4435 If you think your pet may have ingested a potentially poisonous substance, you can call this poison control center 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The cost for a poison-related emergency consultation with a veterinarian or toxicologist is $65, which can be billed to your credit card.
● Pet Poison Helpline: 1 800 213 6680 This 24-hour animal poison control service for the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean charges a $35 per incident fee, payable by credit card. This fee covers the initial consultation as well as all follow-up calls associated with the management of the case.
● Spay/USA Helpline: 1 800 248 7729 This national spay/neuter referral service can help you find a low cost clinic in your area. Their mission is to reduce pet overpopulation by making spay/neuter services affordable to everyone who has a cat or a dog. Phone counselors are available M-F from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. EST.
It’s that time of year again, when warmer temperatures and longer days lure us out of our caves into the fresh air and sunlight. It’s also the time when a gardener’s thoughts turn to creating lush landscapes and veggie patches overflowing with fresh produce. Although the backyard can be a great place to relax and play, it can also be dangerous for our dogs and cats. Creating a pet-safe garden is not an impossible task, however. As responsible pet owners, we just need to take a few precautions to ensure that our outdoor space is safe for our four-legged family members.
Avoid Poisonous Plants
The most obvious way to create a pet-safe garden is to choose the right plants. Not all pet owners realize that a great many garden plants are toxic to dogs and cats, including popular varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, oleander, foxglove, lily of the valley, sago palm, tulip and daffodil. Pets that chew on poisonous plants can experience everything from an upset stomach and diarrhea, to seizures and liver failure.
Before you plant anything new in your garden, it’s a good idea to consult the ASPCA’s comprehensive list of toxic plants. You should also try to avoid trees, shrubs and plants that contribute to allergies. Many of the same plants that cause allergies in humans will affect your pet. Use pollen-free plant species whenever possible, and if you already have a tree or hedge with a high allergy potential, keep it heavily sheared so it will flower less, and don’t plant it directly under a window that you’ll have open in the summer.
Pressure treated wood was used for over 68 years in both residential and commercial applications. While it is no longer supposed to be used in residential applications, it’s been used to build decks, walkways, fences, picnic tables, raised garden beds, dog houses, and other structures where a wood that’s resistant to the elements is needed. However, pressure treated wood poses many dangers to our pets (as well as our families) that you may not be aware of.
The process for pressure-treating lumber was invented by Dr. Karl Wolman, and he was issued a U.S. patent for it on September, 29, 1942. The wood product created won’t decay or rot for over 20 years. The wood used was most prevalently preserved with chromate copper arsenate (CCA) and its use began to cease in 2004 due to safety concerns. However, it is still in use in several industrial applications and in some countries around the world. Arsenate is a salt or ester of arsenic acid, in short arsenic which is an exceedingly toxic chemical, as well as a known carcinogen. CCA toxicity can be caused by inhalation of gas created by burning CCA treated wood in a fire. It can also be caused by a dog eating the wood or ashes from a CCA wood fire. One tablespoon of ash from CCA wood contains a fatal dose of arsenic.
Splinters under the skin can cause an infection, and skin coming in contact with the treated wood or lumber can cause dermal irritation or a rash. One Wisconsin man reported his 85 pound Labrador began to show signs of lethargy, no energy and stiffness. It was thought that the dog was poisoned through inhalation of vapors inside his cage (made from CCA treated wood) or through skin contact or even ingesting the wood of the cage. A Pennsylvania man reported that he had been sawing CCA treated wood for about three months, and a few months into the project his dog died of unknown causes. Under certain conditions the chemicals used to preserve the wood can leach out. Arsenic is water soluble and can mix with rainwater puddling on a deck.
How do you protect your pet if there is CCA treated wood on your property? Make sure there are no puddles on your deck after a rainstorm; watering the grass with a sprinkler or power washing windows might also cause the deck to get wet. Never feed, water or give treats to your pet on the deck, and keep their toys off the deck. Limit their access to the deck; if limiting access is not possible, consider a rug for them to lie on. When laundering any rug from the deck wash it by itself to keep from cross contaminating any other items you launder.
Check the deck to see if it needs to be resanded to prevent paw splinters. Wash your pet’s paws and fur after their contact with the deck. Don’t let your pet play in wood chips or soil under or around CCA treated wood unless they test negative for arsenic.
If you’re building or buying a dog house, make sure it is not made with pressure-treated wood. To protect the wood, use paint, stain or oil that is non-toxic. If you have an outdoor project, consider vinyl alternatives or naturally resistant woods like cedar or redwood. Use reclaimed cedar or redwood. Use regular wood and treat with linseed oil or non-toxic stain or paint, and replace it more often.
As the use of CCA as a wood preservative is being discontinued, other preservatives that use the same process are taking its place: Amine Copper Quat (ACQ-D), Copper Azole (CA), Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ) or Quat for short, and Amoniacal Copper Zinc Arsenate (ACZA). There are pros and cons on both sides of the issue, and if you’re a pet owner I would suggest caution when using any pressure-treated wood.
If you believe that your dog or cat may have been exposed to CCA, you can contact the following poison hotlines for information on symptoms and treatment, as well as prevention of a future incident.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.