Category Archives: poisons

Creating a Pet-Safe Garden

By Julia Williams

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.

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The Dangers of Treated Wood for Pets

By Ruthie Bently

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.

Pet Poison Helpline website, (800) 213-6680. Calls from the United States are answered 24 hours a day.
ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center. Available 24 hours a day for emergencies at: (888) 426-4435.

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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.

Household Cleaners That Aren’t Pet Friendly

By Linda Cole

Some days, it’s a constant battle trying to keep up with muddy footprints, nose smudges or footprints on the windows, and pet hair on our furniture. However, the household cleaners we use may impact the health of our pets. If you follow the instructions on containers, most pets can tolerate them. Pets with upper respiratory conditions, allergies or those sensitive to a product can have problems though, because many traditional household cleaners are not pet friendly.

I have a cat who loves to slide on a freshly mopped floor. He runs as hard as he can, hits the floor and slides across to the other side of the room. Kids! But he has a sensitivity to certain cleaners, so I have to make sure what he’s sliding on is pet friendly.

Pine oil products. Any household cleaner containing phenol is not pet friendly. Phenol is found in pine oil products, and cats are especially sensitive to it. Phenol has been linked to liver damage. You will also find phenol in some air fresheners, so be sure to read all labels carefully and keep pets away from these products. They pick up cleaner on their paws when they walk over a wet floor or freshly dusted coffee table. When they lick their paws, some of the cleaner is ingested. Keep pets away from wet floors or tables.

Ammonia. Household cleaners with ammonia are not a good choice if you own pets. Spot removal cleaners want you to think they’re pet friendly, but in reality, ammonia draws pets to a spot faster than a bee to honey. Using ammonia to mop your floor or clean a spot on the carpet actually encourages your pet to go where they smell the ammonia. Avoid ammonia to clean up a pet stains. It acts like a flashing red sign that says, “Go Here.”

Dishwasher detergents. Residue on dishes will build up over time. Most of them use a highly concentrated form of chlorine which can become toxic over time. All dishwasher detergents are harmful if swallowed.

Laundry detergents work using enzymes, phosphorus and phenol, as well as other ingredients. Some residue is left on what was washed. Pets can be sensitive to certain kinds of detergents just like some people are.

Oven cleaner is not pet friendly. This household cleaner is probably one of the most toxic products we use in the home. It contains lye and ammonia which produce fumes that can linger in the air.

Toilet bowl cleaners contain hydrochloric acid, and many have bleach in them. Solid tablets placed on the inside of toilets designed to clean with each flush, or anything that’s dropped into the tank can be harmful to pets who drink out of the toilet. Do not allow a pet to drink water from the toilet bowl if you use any product like this.

Furniture polish contains petroleum distillates (a concentration of vapors through a distillation process) making this product highly flammable. They also contain nitrobenzene which is quite toxic.

Carpet fresheners or cleaners, bleach, drain cleaners, liquid potpourri and window cleaners all contain toxic chemicals that are not pet friendly. Many cleaners can cause pets gastrointestinal problems and irritations to their respiratory tract.

So what’s a responsible pet owner supposed to do when they want to clean their house? Thankfully, there are some commercial and natural household cleaners that are pet friendly. These “green” products typically use vegetable-based cleaning agents that are safe for pets and people. You can find all purpose cleaners, detergents, toilet bowl cleaners and floor cleaners, to name just a few.

Baking soda can be used to scrub your tub and sink, or mop your floor. Sprinkle some into the carpet to freshen it. Use it to clean out the litter pan and sprinkle into the litter in between changes as a deodorizer.

Borax can be added to your regular laundry detergent to help remove pet odors from bedding and clothes. You can also use it as a tub cleaner, or sprinkle some into carpets to help control fleas. Rub it in with a broom and then vacuum; it acts like tiny knives to a flea population. You will find this in the laundry detergent aisle.

White vinegar works great as a deodorizer and degreaser, and helps remove stains. I mix half vinegar, half water and use it to clean up pet “accidents” (although I’m pretty sure some were on purpose). Vinegar also works great on windows and floors, in the kitchen and in the bathroom.

For more information on how to help your four-legged friend stay safe, read Simple Ways to Keep Your Dog Healthy.

Photo courtesy of Claudio Matsuoka.

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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.

Is Your Home Safe for Your Dog?

By Linda Cole

We don’t view our homes the same way our dogs do. They see every little button or tack hiding among the dust bunnies under the bed, and they’re always finding things that have fallen on the floor or that we forgot to pick up. Having a pet means constantly looking around the home to make sure your dog doesn’t find something that could be harmful to him if he ate or drank it. We think our home is safe for our pets because it’s safe for us, but that’s not always the case. Is your home safe for your dog?

We already know how important it is to make sure we’ve pet proofed the house, inside and out. But even that doesn’t guarantee your dog won’t find something potentially dangerous for them. Dogs are experts at finding things in and around the home. Small sticks are fun to chew and play with, but a stick in the mouth of a running dog can be dangerous – he can ram it down his throat if he runs into another dog or the ground.

Dogs pick up anything that looks interesting. To keep your home safe for your dog, look at it from their perspective. The garage, basement or back porch are great places to store things, but a dog can quickly find something they shouldn’t have. Watch out for spilled antifreeze, opened bottles of antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid, windshield cleaner, stored gas, car batteries, grass clippings from the lawn mower, handsaws, hand tools, string, rope, electrical cords, small tacks, nails, screws or anything that might catch your dog’s attention.

Keep your home safe for your dog by making sure knives, forks, potato peelers, dropped food, dropped medications (liquid and pills), dish detergent, all types of soap, cleaning products, drain cleaners, batteries, spices, food, candy, alcohol and gum are all safely stored away from prying noses.

Even if you think your dog is past the chewing stage, don’t leave remote controls where your dog can get them. I made the mistake of leaving my TV remote on the coffee table one day. My 10 year old dog was apparently bored and my poor remote was never the same after an afternoon of being chewed on. Dogs will also chew on batteries if they fall out of the remote. The average dog bites at around 200 to 500 pounds of pressure per square inch, and big dogs have a bite pressure even higher.

Many things dogs find on the floor or under the couch or kitchen counter can be harmful to them if swallowed or chewed. Rubber bands, needles (some still attached to thread), string, yarn, balloons, small toys, small balls, clothing, mothballs, Q-Tips, diet pills, cigarette butts, antacid tablets, medications, push pins, paper clips, tacks, nails, jewelry and food often find their way to the floor without us knowing about it.

Paper shredders are a new danger for pets. Make your home safe for your dog by unplugging your shredder when it’s not in use. Shredders left on automatic will start to run if the dog or cat licks it. It’s unknown if pets lick the shredder because of the smell of the metal or because they smell their owner’s scent on the shredder. Veterinarians have seen an increase in pets injured when their tongues become caught in a shredder that started up when they licked it. Some of the injuries have been severe and some dogs have had to have damaged portions of their tongues removed as well as multiple stitches. The best way to prevent accidental shredding of your pet’s tongue is to make sure the shredder is unplugged.

Poisons used to eradicate snails, ants, mice and rats can be found by an inquisitive dog. Most dogs will check out the bait if they find it, and some dogs will try to eat it. Traps not only catch rats and mice, but can catch your dog as well. Make sure poisons, ink cartridges and toners are safely stored away.

No matter how clean we try to keep our homes, things end up on the floor by accident. We need to be aware of what we have in the home that could be dangerous for our pets. They will play with, chew on and consume what they find on the floor or anywhere in the home if they can reach it. Keep your home safe for your dog by seeing it as they do. If in doubt, put it away in a cabinet, drawer or under the sink. Your pet’s safety depends on you seeing what they see.

Read more articles by Linda Cole

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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.

Plants for Pets To Avoid

Spring is in the air and with this beautiful season follows the arrival of new flowers and plants. But beware – there are certain plants that just don’t belong in a home with pets. These are the plants that can cause everything from allergies to poisonings.
I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t matter how old or how smart your dog or cat is, they can still find a way to get themselves into trouble. If that happens to include chewing on household plants, you’ll want to ensure that you are taking the necessary precautions to help your pet avoid temptation.
You will also want to make note of a few phone numbers, or better yet –consider printing this list out and hanging it on your refrigerator. The way we react in the first few minutes can make a lifetime of difference for our pets and children.  Your first call should be to your veterinarian, so be sure to have his or her number written down in plain view. If, for some reason, you can’t reach your vet, these are some other numbers you can call.
ASPCA Poison Control Hotline
Note: There is a $60 charge for this service.
The National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPPC)
Note: If you call the 1-900 number, the charge is $20.00 for the first five minutes, then $2.95/minute thereafter. If you use the 800 number, the charge is $30.00 per case (VISA, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express only).
Whomever you call, be sure that you’re ready with the following information:
  • The species, breed, age, sex, weight and number of animals involved.
  • The animal’s symptoms.
  • Information regarding the exposure, including the agent (if known), the amount of the agent involved and the time elapsed since the time of exposure.
  • Have the product container/packaging available for reference.
If your animal is having seizures, losing consciousness, is unconscious or is having difficulty breathing, telephone ahead and bring your pet immediately to your local veterinarian or emergency veterinary clinic. If necessary, he or she may call the APCC.
Over 700 plants have been identified to be toxic to our pets. Unfortunately, some of the most toxic plants are also the more beautiful plants. So before you start adding them to your yard or home décor, take a look at this list from the Humane Society or visit the American Animal Hospital Association website.
Additional Resources: 

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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.