Category Archives: toxins

Top 10 Poison Dangers for Dogs

By Langley Cornwell

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.

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Venomous Creatures That Can Endanger Pets

By Ruthie Bently

There are many creatures in the United States (both native and non-native) that are venomous to our family pets. They can be found at the beach, in the woods, on a hike, even in your own backyard. This article will help to give you a head’s up on the creatures that are toxic to your pets, and where you might encounter them.

The only U.S. state with poisonous frogs is Hawaii. The Green and Black Poison Dart Frog was introduced in 1932 in an effort to control mosquitoes. While most frogs are nocturnal, poison dart frogs are active during the day and their bright colors are a warning of danger. Their poison is used by rainforest Indians to tip their hunting arrows and blowgun darts. A small number contain toxins that can poison by contact, enter the skin through a cut, or orally. The poison can cause hallucinations, and can affect the heart. If your pet comes in contact with one of these frogs, take them to your vet immediately.

Every toad in the U.S. has toxins in their system in varying degrees. The largest native toad in the U.S. is the Colorado River Toad (Bufo alvarius). All toads have paratoid glands behind each eye on either side of their neck. When a dog or cat catches a toad, these glands release a poison that enters the mouth and throat of the pet causing inflammation. The most toxic, non-native toad in the United States is the Cane Toad (Bufo marinus), introduced to control sugarcane beetles. Its paratoid glands extend down the sides of its body. It was introduced to south Florida and its range is now southern Texas into Mexico.

If ingested, toad toxin can cause nausea, heart arrhythmias, seizures, signs of collapse, weakness and death. A pet does not need to eat a toad or swallow their toxin to be affected. The toxins can be absorbed through the mucous linings of a pet’s mouth. After mouthing a toad, a pet immediately begins drooling and the drool has an oily sheen to it. Pets may begin pawing at their mouth, shaking their head or have problems breathing. Try diluting the effects of the poison by completely washing out your pet’s mouth with water, and call your vet immediately. For more information about this venomous creature, read Dogs and Toads Don’t Make a Good Duo.

The only venomous lizard in the U.S. is the Gila Monster, and there are two species: (Banded and Reticulated).The Banded is also known as the Northern Gila Monster, and its range covers four states: California, Arizona, Utah and Nevada. The Reticulated Gila Monster is also known as the Southern Gila Monster, and its range covers western Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Both species can grow to a length of two feet and weigh three pounds. Gila Monsters are diurnal; this means they are active during the daytime, though they are slow moving. They do not usually attack unless cornered, however they do not let go once they have bitten something.

The Gila Monster has grooved teeth in its lower jaw and when it bites a victim the venom, which is a neurotoxin, is secreted from glands in the lower jaw that flows through the teeth into the wound created. As the Gila Monster keeps biting the venom keeps flowing; it is as toxic as the western diamondback rattlesnake’s venom. A bite causes swelling around the wound and considerable pain followed by nausea, thirst, faintness and weakness. While their bite is not fatal to humans, it may be to small pets, especially if there is arterial bleeding. One site suggests detaching the lizard by inserting a stick between its jaw and bite, and prying its mouth open; using a lighter or matches to apply heat under the lizard’s jaw until it lets go; or by dipping the lizard into water until it unfastens. Stop any bleeding if possible and flush the wound with a large quantity of clean, fresh water. Contact your vet before attempting these methods to make sure they would suggest this.

Newts are Salamindridae family members and when bothered secrete a sticky mucous from glands on their heads, bodies and tails that can be irritating to humans and pets. The Rough-Skinned Newt (Taricha granulosa) and other newts of the Taricha genus secrete a toxin similar to pufferfish liver toxin. Caution should be taken at all times to avoid these with your pets. Other newts in this genus include: Red-Bellied Newt, California Newt and the Coast Range Newt.

In my next article, I’ll cover more creatures that are venomous to pets, including spiders, scorpions and snakes.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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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.

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.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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.

Nicotine Toxicity in Dogs


By Ruthie Bently

I recently wrote an article about the risks of second-hand smoke to pets, but did you know that dogs can be poisoned by nicotine too? While there are carcinogens in second-hand smoke, what many people may not consider is that any tobacco product has nicotine, as do all the nicotine preparations for smoking cessation. A dog can be poisoned without ingesting smoke from a cigarette, pipe or cigar. The forms we are most familiar with are cigarettes, cigars, pipe and chewing tobacco, snuff, nicotine patches, nicotine nasal spray, nicotine inhalers and nicotine gum. Nicotine in its pure form is odorless, unless it sits for a time and then it takes on a slight tobacco smell. It was derived from the tobacco plant and is a poisonous alkaloid.

Nicotine has been used by gardeners for years as a commercial pesticide and fumigant. Powdered nicotine comes in a can with a wick that, when lit, becomes a smoke that is extremely toxic to anything in the vicinity. Any greenhouse that employs this insecticide must make sure all windows and doors are tightly sealed to keep the smoke from escaping. Nicotiana (Flowering Tobacco) is a plant grown in many ornamental gardens. Its flowers come in many color variations and it is a member of the Nightshade family. It was even sent as a medicine to the court of Catherine de’ Medici in 1559, by the French ambassador to Portugal.

Nicotine toxicity depends on the weight of your dog and the amount ingested. Nicotine is toxic at the level of 5 milligrams per pound of your dog’s weight. A toxic amount of nicotine to a small dog would only have to be between two and four cigarettes. The nicotine residue in a cigarette butt can still be significant. The nicotine products our pets ingest most often are nicotine patches and gum, as well as cigarette butts and cigarettes. Dogs can be attracted to nicotine gum and chewing tobacco due to the supplements that are used to make them sweet: sugar, molasses, honey and syrups.

The amount of nicotine in a product depends on its size and type of product. A cigarette butt can contain between 4 and 8 milligrams of nicotine. Depending on the brand, a cigarette can contain between 15 and 25 milligrams of nicotine. Other nicotine amounts: a cigar has between 15 and 40 milligrams, Snuff has between 85 and 121 mg per 1/4 ounce, a piece of nicotine gum contains 2 to 4 mg, and a nicotine patch can have between 8 and 114 mg per patch.

If your dog has ingested nicotine, you will often see signs within an hour. Depending on the amount of nicotine your dog has eaten you may see hyperactivity, difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, lack of coordination, stumbling, tremors, depression, vomiting, drooling, weakness, seizures, dilated pupils, diarrhea, collapse, cardiac arrhythmias and in large doses, lethargy. If left untreated, nicotine toxicity can paralyze a dog’s breathing muscles and this can cause death within hours.

Your veterinarian should be consulted to determine the best treatment for your situation. It is important to immediately reduce the amount of nicotine in your dog’s stomach; this will lessen the amount of nicotine your dog’s body may have already begun to process. Your vet may induce vomiting or have you do it at home if a small amount was ingested. Administering activated charcoal can be used to keep your dog’s body from absorbing additional amounts of nicotine. It may be necessary to pump your dog’s stomach if the nicotine amount was large. Fluids given intravenously may also be suggested to help flush the nicotine from your dog’s system. In spite of treatment, some dogs that ingest large amounts of nicotine may not survive.

Whichever form it is in, nicotine is toxic to our dogs. It does not take much to send them to the vet’s office or have you reaching for the phone to call the poison control hotline. If you feel your dog may have ingested nicotine, contact your veterinarian immediately.

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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.

Does Second-Hand Smoke Affect Pets?


By Ruthie Bently

Second-hand smoke (also known as ETS or environmental tobacco smoke) comes from anything that is smoked: cigarettes, cigars and pipes. Second-hand smoke is a carcinogen that can cause cancer in both dogs and cats. Dogs that live with smokers in a building that is not well ventilated have a higher risk of not only lung cancer but nasal cancer as well. Dogs with short noses like Pugs, French and English Bulldogs and Boxers are susceptible to lung cancer, while dogs with long noses like Afghans, Collies and Labrador Retrievers are susceptible to nasal cancer. The difference is where the carcinogens accumulate in a dog’s body.

Second-hand smoke can also be associated with cardiovascular and respiratory disease, chronic lung infections, asthma, and eye problems. ETS has been extensively researched where humans are concerned, but not as many studies have been done for our companion animals. Studies have shown that tobacco smoke contains up to twenty different carcinogens which can be inhaled by non-smoking bystanders. ETS consists of the smoke released by a burning cigar, cigarette or pipe as well as the smoke exhaled by the smoker themselves. There are over 4,000 chemicals contained in second-hand smoke including arsenic, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide, nickel, benzene, chromium and vinyl chloride.

If you are not ready to quit smoking, or are having a hard time accomplishing it, there are several things you can do to help minimize the dangers to your pet. Using air purifiers around the house and air filters on your furnace will help but not alleviate the problem as it takes so long for ETS to clear. Consider smoking outside the house, or make a smoke-free room or two in your house where your pet can go to get away from the smoke.

If it is too cold for you to smoke outside, choose a room to smoke in that can be shut off from the rest of the house. Crack a window in your “smoking room” while you are smoking to help vent the ETS from the house faster. Another important way to help your pet is to brush and groom them regularly; this can remove the smoke residue that collects on their coat. They clean themselves with their tongues and can ingest the toxins as they are grooming their coats. Your veterinarian may suggest an anti-oxidant to minimize the cancer causing effects. If you are concerned and want to learn more about the dangers of second-hand smoke to pets, give your veterinarian a call.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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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.