March is National Pet Poison Prevention Month, and we spent some time on the show talking with three incredible veterinarians who specialize in helping pet parents prevent their fur kids from exposure to harmful substances, as well as providing critical resources in case of exposure. 100s of thousands of pets are exposed to toxic substances every year, resulting in needless pain and suffering, and even death for a pet. Not only can exposure to some toxins put your dog or cat into a life threatening situation, it can end up costing you a fortune. For example, a dog or cat’s ingestion of antifreeze might ring up an emergency vet bill of $6000 or more, a cat getting exposed to lilies is at least $1000 vet bill, but could cost thousands more. And worst of all…sometimes even emergency veterinary care isn’t enough to save the life of a pet that has been exposed to something poisonous to its system. That’s why prevention is key…so we’re going to review not commonly known poisons, the most seen poisoning cases, misconceptions pet parents may believe is bad or good for their pets and seasonal items that can be a hazard to your pet.
Not Commonly Known Poisons
You might not suspect glue to be much of a hazard to your pet as it is for humans who may somehow find themselves in a sticky situation if they aren’t careful. And no I am not talking about Elmer’s glue your five-year-old daughter uses to dump her glitter on. However, I would avoid leaving that around for your pet to get into to too. No, I’m talking about the stronger stuff. The stuff that can stick wood to a wall and a repair a chipped flower pot. The glue I’m targeting the most is Gorilla glue. If this glue is ingested by your pet, as soon as it hits your pet’s stomach it will expand immediately and then harden. It can cause severe damages to your pets entrails by causing blockages or even expanding stomachs. Dr. Jason, whom we were lucky to have on the show, made a video demonstrating how gorilla glue would behave in your dog’s stomach. Don’t worry he didn’t use an actual pet, however, the horrifying results of the demonstration speaks for itself: DON’T LEAVE STRONG ADHESIVES IN YOUR PET’S REACH.
Grapes, Raisins, & Currants
Now, this may come as a surprise, but you should avoid feeding dog’s grapes, raisins, and currants. For some reason, it can cause kidney failure some dogs. The reasons are unknown what causes this exactly and researchers are well…still researching. As for cats, Dr. Jason points out that no confirmed cases showed that they’re poisonous to cats, but you may not want to take that risk.
Onions, Chives, & Garlic
You’re mincing some sweet garlic and all of the sudden piece falls on the floor. Oh, well you think; Sparky will get it. Don’t do it. Onions, chives, and garlic can cause anemia in cats in dogs. Their red blood cells will break down which will provide less oxygen to their cells. Unlike us humans, dogs and cats can’t handle the allium, pronounced al-ee-um, species of plants which garlic and onions come from (Banefield Pet Hospital, 2015).
Xylitol a.k.a. The Sugar Substitute
Xylitol is an all natural sugar substitute commonly found in sugar-free products, such as sugar-free gum, mints, ice cream, and some peanut butter. This sugar substitute is safe for human consumption but for dogs and cats, it’s extremely dangerous. Just .048 ounces for a 30-pound dog is enough to give them hypoglycemia in 30 minutes or less (Dr. Jason Nicholas, 2015). .048 ounces is about a teaspoon and that’s all it takes. For those of you not familiar with hypoglycemia, it is the lack of blood sugar in the body. Xylitol can cause the pancreas in dogs and cats to produce more insulin that is necessary that reduces the blood sugar in their bodies. If blood sugar gets too low it can cause weakness, lack of coordination, seizures, and even death. Now that you understand the dangers of Xylitol check out this list of over 700 products that contain it:http://www.preventivevet.com/xylitol-products-toxic-for-dogs
Some of the creams we put on our skin can poison our pets if they lick us or traces of the cream from household objects we touch. Creams you should avoid your pet getting into include: topical neoplastic chemotherapy cream, vitamin D cream, estrogen replacement, steroid, and psoriasis.
I bet you didn’t even think flea medicine could harm pets. You’re probably wondering, what…flea medicine, that stuff is designed to go on pet’s, so how can it harm them? Well, yes, some flea medicines are designed to go on dogs to get rid of fleas, but a certain type of flea mediation is only safe for DOGS. Cats, on the other hand, are sensitive to certain flea medicines, especially the more traditional and older medicines you can get over the counter. The chemical compounds in these medicines are pyrethrin and permethrin, and those two chemicals are toxic for cats. If a cat gets this flea medicine on them. it can cause muscle tremors and even neurological damage. If you buy flea medicine at a market. just be sure to read the labels and also keep in mind how your cat interacts with your dog. If your cat tends to groom or snuggle with your dog, they can end up ingesting or absorbing the toxins, so best to avoid applying to your dog or at least isolate your pets for a period of time. A better solution would get flea medicine from a vet, they’re usually safer and more effective. In recent times. a lot more oral flea medicine has appeared such as Nexgard, Comfortis, and Trifexis. These medicines don’t make contact with cats or other pets at all and they tend to be more effective in getting rid of pesky fleas.
Flowers smell pleasant and can make a wonderful edition to your counter. You should make note of what flowers you’re bringing in your home. Some flowers, though pretty, can contain deadly toxins for cats. Lilies are such a flower. Just a small nibble from the plant can send your cat’s nine lives to the grave (Dr. Jason Nicholas, 2014). The toxins can cause acute kidney failure, which can be fatal for cats. Now you may think to put your lilies on a high counter or suspend them in the air would prevent your cat ingesting the poison but you would be making a mistake. The toxins are not just found in the stems, leaves, and petals of the flower. It can also be found in the pollen. Pollen can spread from the air circulating around it land on your cat’s fur and as soon as your cat grooms himself, the toxins get ingested. And let’s not kid ourselves…cats like to climb! A high counter may pose no barrier to your curious cat. If you suspend the pot, the petals and leaves can fall off the pat as the plant starts to die. Just say no to lilies and instead settle for other beautiful flowers that opposes no harm to your furry loved ones.
Slug & Snail Bait
Nothing can feel more repulsive than a bunch of slugs and snails slithering around your home and in your garden. To combat these unpleasant creatures, we tend to rely on slug and snail bait to lure and get rid of the pests. However, these baits tend to lure more than just slugs and snails. They can lure our pets as well, with the sweet molasses formulated with the metaldehyde poison contained in the bait. If you think of buying “pet safe” slug and snail bait, just take into account it’s not truly pet safe but rather “pet safer,” meaning it will likely not cause your pet harm if they ate a small amount. To stay super cautious, you may want to try more natural methods of getting rid of the slimy creatures such as using egg shells, copper rings, and planting plants that don’t attract slugs and snails.
After sharing with us the many not commonly known pet poisons out there, Dr. Jason offered you all a 20% discount on his new book 101 Essential Tips – Puppy & New Dog: Health & Safety. Just enter PLG20 at checkout. Alright, back to poison prevention
Most Common Cases of Pet Poisoning
According to Dr. Tina Wismer, who works for ASPCA Poison Control Center, dropped medication was the most common situation called into the APCC in 2016. We all know the drill, you drop something bound for your mouth on the the floor and your pup snarfs it up in 2.3 seconds flat. If the fallen morsel is a medication, that can be a serious threat to your pup’s health. With this in mind, Dr. Wismer told us the most dangerous over the counter drugs:
- asitia medicine
- Naproxen such as Aleve
- Cold medicine
She stated that these drugs can affect pet livers so that it causes red blood cells from failing to carry oxygen throughout their bodies. Dr. Wismer did mention that if your pet does consume one of these drugs it depends on the dose to determine the toxicity. However, you can’t always tell how much your pet consumed, so always take your pet to a vet regardless.
Growing up you might have heard of something that seemed like a legit fact but in fact was just an “alternative fact” (yeah, we know “alternative facts” often get passed off nowadays as truth…but they really something else — NOT facts, and usually, NOT truth). One we came across was apples being poisonous to dogs due to the seeds. Apple seeds do, in fact, contain small amounts of cyanide, which is poisonous to dogs, cats, and even humans. Since we’re not all dead from apples, it’s safe to say your pets won’t die either. The cyanide in apple seeds is so small of a dose, and can only be released if the pits get opened up. Most dogs will just swallow them whole if they happen to eat the core. Even if they do end up chewing a seed or two, they will be fine. In fact, most fruits are safe for pets, except for the grapes we mentioned earlier.
Legalizing marijuana for recreational and medical uses opened up the doors to treating humans and pets. Mary Jane can help relieve pain, anxiety, and even epilepsy. For this reason, marijuana dog treats were created to help dogs with these symptoms and problems. The marijuana in these treats lack the hallucinogenic, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), but instead keep Cannabidiol (CBD), which brings the pain relieving properties. Just because marijuana dog treats can be beneficial to dogs does not mean recreational marijuana would be good for them too. Always check with a vet before giving your pet any kind of drug.
Dr. Wismer’s Important Advice
As Dr. Wismer’s time on the show came to a wrap, we asked her what final advice she had for us. Her final advice: DON’T WAIT!!! If you know or suspect your pet ate something toxic, the worst thing for you to do is ponder if they’re going to be okay, wait for signs, or consult Dr. Google for remedies. Just call your vet or a poison hotline immediately! They will let you know if you need to see a vet or not.
Most of us know antifreeze can poison pets but do you know what type of antifreeze that’s absolutely the worst kind your pet can ingest? Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol compound causes the most harm to your pet, as it doesn’t take much to lick up to severely damage your pet’s kidneys. There are types of antifreeze out there that are pet safer, such as the ones that contain propylene glycol, but it’s still not good for them! When it comes down to it, antifreeze can kill pets. Keep all antifreeze stored away from your pet’s reach and clean it up when it spills. If you happen to notice your pet licking up antifreeze, or a spot on the garage floor that may be antifreeze residue, take them to a vet immediately. You may have seen them lick a little and stopped them but in reality, a little can be a lot, depending on the antifreeze and how much your pet licked before you noticed. Don’t take the chance, get your pet to a vet.
One fascinating thing Dr. Flint, a vet at Pet Poison Helpline, shared with us about antifreeze poisoning is the treatment a vet will give. When the antifreeze gets to the liver, it breaks down into horrible compounds that wreak havoc on your pet’s body. The vet will combat this with something you least expect…another poison. Shocking…huh? The vet administers alcohol….and more specifically strong alcohols such as vodka. Now why would a vet give your pet alcohol? Well, your pet’s liver breaks down the antifreeze into harmful compounds, but when alcohol enters the liver it changes the way antifreeze gets broken down so that it doesn’t create those horrible compounds that can cause kidney damage and other problems. In the process of pets intake of alcohol to detox the antifreeze, they will become as drunk just as Dumbo did in Dumbo.
Word of caution — alcohol is still can be quite toxic to pets. Vets might combat antifreeze by fighting fire with fire, but they’re professional, you’re not. Do not play doctor when your beloved pet’s life is at stake. Do your pet a favor in this dangerous situation, and get them to a vet.
Nothing can be more annoying and dangerous than slipping on the sidewalk or shoveling up snow. Luckily the invention of ice melts makes life a little safer and less of a pain…or so we thought. Those melts can cause harm to our pets if several pieces get ingested. Fortunately, the market offers a lot of pet safer ice melts such as the magnesium blends and calcium blends. You won’t need to worry if your pet consumes a few of these before you can stop her. At most, consuming just a small amount can give a pet mild vomiting and diarrhea. The melts you should avoid are the true salts, such as sodium chloride as these can create a severe electrolyte balance within your pet. Overall, the best way to prevent pets from ingesting melt is to keep the stash away from their access and wipe their paws when they come inside.
Beware of the plants you plant. Some of the bulbous plants can cause upset stomachs for your dogs if they eat them. Watch out for lilies, as we mentioned earlier, they’re highly toxic to cats. Other than that, just watch where your pet roams, be mindful of the fertilizers you use, and try to use few, if any, pesticides.
With Spring comes spring cleaning, and that means cleaning chemicals. Dr. Flint states that most of the everyday household cleaning supplies don’t pose much of a threat, unless they get into it like a toddler drink and eat a whole bunch. The main cleaning agents you should keep your pet absolutely away from are detergents and strong cleaners such oven and toilet cleaners.
Do This Now!!!
Before we conclude, we want you, pet parents, to take a moment to do 4 things.
- Add your vet’s phone number to your fridge and your cell phone contact list.
- Add the ASPCA Poison Control Center number to your fridge and cell phone contact list. Their number is (888) 426-4435
- Add the Pet Poison Helpline number to your fridge and cell phone contact list. Their number is 1-(800) 213-6680
- Download ASPCA Poison Control Center app to your phone. The app contains over 300 substances you can lookup.
Alright, pet lovers, we went over a lot of pet poisons and ways to prevent pet poisoning. The sad thing though, we only just grazed the surface. To help expand your knowledge check out PreventiveVet.com, ASPCA Poison Control Center site, and the Pet Poison Helpline site for more articles on pet poison and prevention. With that I just like to highlight the MOST important advice you should get from this episode: Don’t wait, take action, call your vet.