Don't forget all the things associated with Easter that are harmful to your pets! Pet proof your home to have a safe Easter weekend with your pets.
Especially in households with younger children, it is very import to pet-proof your house for Easter festivities! Between sneaking chocolate from baskets, eating candy wrappers strewn across the house, and mistaking fake, plastic grass for the real deal... Easter weekend is an ingestion hazard waiting to happen.
The best place to start is by avoiding all fake, plastic Easter-basket-grass as it can be lethal when consumed by an unsuspecting pet (not to mention it's very hard to recycle!). Here are some favorite go-to replacements are:
As with all holidays, I always recommend pet-proofing your GUESTS as well as your house to avoid incidents and to reduce the stress on your pets.
Especially with less-frequent guests, give visitors a quick run-down of your pet-rules-of-the-house - i.e. keeping outside doors closed, not feeding the pups from the table, don't chase or handle the animals, unless advised how to.
However, in any situation with many visitors to your home, your pets will inevitably have heightened anxiety and stress. In these situations I've found two products to be incredibly effective in keeping my pets happy and relaxed - Diffusing doTERRA Essential Oils and playing calming music. They can both calm your pets!
Here is a bit of advice for keeping your pets safe. Has your pet ever eaten something they shouldn’t that could block their digestive track and cause major complications if they develop a blockage in their digestive track? I have had this happen twice with one of my dogs that thinks things are a treasure to keep and eat instead of letting someone else have them. I experienced this with this dog years ago when she decided to swallow a leather baseball cover instead of letting the other dog that she was playing with keep it. The leather cover stitching broke on the ball and she managed to get the cover off the ball that was in his mouth. Needless to say we took an emergency trip to my vet who just happened to have a cancellation that morning and induced vomiting to remove the cover. If the cover would have entered the digestive track she would have had to have surgery to remove it. This happened close to my vet so I was lucky.
Yesterday this same dog decided to play keep away with the packaging of chicken which consists of the Styrofoam tray and the pellet type lining that is use to absorb the juices to keep them from leaking while packaged. She was outside and wanted to play keep away and swallowed the packaging and pellet substance instead of giving it up. It was my fault for being careless of were the packaging was left for disposing of it. I knew she was going to have to vomit this up but I was miles from a vet or emergence clinic and it was past regular office hours. I decided I would have to use a technique that I knew about to induce vomiting in pets. Amazingly it worked and the unwanted substance was out of her and on the ground within 10 minutes. I was so happy and I want to tell you about this method of inducing vomiting. Hopefully you will never have to use it but I feel it is something you should know. What will induce vomiting is a 3% solution of Food Grade Hydrogen Peroxide. IT MUST BE FOOD GRADE! The dosage is generally 1 tsp/10# weight in dogs. I mixed it with some raw chicken and water. I was also told that it should be a unopened bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide to be effective. I always keep an unopened bottle just for this purpose.
You can google it to find out more details for cats. Make sure it hasn’t been two hours since the animal ate the unwanted substance. Look for more details online for dangerous substances that should not have vomiting induced. You should never induce vomiting with brachycephalic pets (pets that have a smooshed face and are more at risk for inhaling vomit into their lungs. Brachycephalic breeds include the following: English bulldogs, Pekingese, Shih-Tzus, Pugs, etc. You can check the link below for more precautions.
Let's keep our pets safe always. This list of poisonous plants is on my website under pet safety. The link to this site is in the picture. Included here is link for the pet poison hotline. Pet parents should have this information handy all the time!
Parts of this information is from Dr. Karen Becker, DVM
I have experience chocolate poisoning from a family pet and it was scary. We spent Christmas Eve and early into Christmas Day in the Emergency Veterinarian Clinic with my son's Golden Retriever about 6 years ago and it sure made me more cautious about keeping an eye on what food is around that we might not even thing twice about being a concern for our pets. This sweet counter surfing dog ate a majority of some rich dark chocolate brownies. She couldn't have had a more dangerous snack for this was the most serious type of chocolate poisoning.
The vets had to pump her stomach and then get charcoal into her stomach to absorb any of the chocolate that wasn't discharged by vomiting. After that she had to be watched very closely to make sure she didn't have any other reactions which made for a very long night. Luckly there was an emergency clinic close and she was cared for immediately so she did fully recover.
Please watch your Pets Closely especially if you have children in the household!
By Dr. Karen Shaw Becker
According to veterinary journal dvm360, here’s the extent of what most pet parents know about the dangers of chocolate: Chocolate + Dog = Big trouble. This is actually a good, if simplistic way to frame the issue.
Dogs are much more often the victims of chocolate poisoning than cats, because dogs like sweet-tasting things, and they’re indiscriminate eaters. They make up 95 percent of chocolate emergency calls according to the Pet Poison Helpline, and in some dogs, even the wrappers from candy can result in secondary obstruction in the stomach or intestines.1 But why, exactly, is one of our favorite treats such a problem for furry family members?
Chocolate Poisoning PrimerChocolate is made from the roasted seeds of the Theobroma cacao or cocoa tree. The seeds have certain properties that can be toxic for dogs (and cats), including caffeine and theobromine, which are naturally occurring stimulants. Both theobromine and caffeine stimulate the central nervous system and heart muscle. They also relax smooth muscles, especially the bronchial muscles, and increase production of urine by the kidneys.
Studies show dogs are especially sensitive to theobromine compared to other domestic animals. This is because they metabolize the substance very slowly, which means it stays in the bloodstream for an unusually long time. This may also be true of cats, but because kitties don’t commonly overdose on chocolate, there isn’t a lot of research on feline chocolate toxicosis.
Even small amounts of chocolate can cause adverse reactions in pets, and the darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains. Baker’s chocolate, semisweet chocolate, cocoa powder and gourmet dark chocolates are more dangerous than milk chocolate.
Other sources include chewable flavored multivitamins, baked goods, chocolate-covered espresso beans and cocoa bean mulch. White chocolate has very little theobromine and won’t cause poisoning in pets. Though not commonly seen, the worst of the worst is dry cocoa powder, which contains the highest amount of theobromine per ounce — 800 milligrams per ounce versus Baker’s chocolate at 450 milligrams per ounce.
How Much Is Too Much?“It’s the dose that makes the poison,” according to the Pet Poison Helpline. For example, a few M&Ms or a bite of a chocolate chip cookie are unlikely to cause a problem for your dog. Standard guidelines for chocolate poisoning in dogs include:2
I’m sure many of you are decorating and getting ready for the holidays and I would like to remind you of the dangers of for our pets during the holidays. Remember to think of pet holiday safety just like you would for a small child. Dogs and cats are curious of shinny objects, lights, tinsel, ornaments, and the Christmas tree itself whether it is a live or artificial tree. Many cats like to climb a tree just like if they were outside and dogs will check the trees out also. If they chew on the tree or lights that can be very serious. You can train a pet to stay away from the tree and other decorations. That is done the same way as you would teach them the “leave it” command.
Christmas plants are also dangerous for our pets so if you love to decorate your homes with poinsettias, holly and mistletoe you need to take caution with these toxic plants and keep them away from your pets. If you see any evidence these plants have been chewed on, call your veterinarian immediately for further instructions. I have a list of poisonous plants on my website if you would like to check out other toxic items for animals.
Many foods are also dangerous for your pets like chocolate, Xytilol, raisins and more.
Chocolate, Coffee and Caffeine all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee, and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by pets, methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death. Note that darker chocolate is more dangerous than milk chocolate. White chocolate has the lowest level of methylxanthines, while baking chocolate contains the highest.
Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death. Under no circumstances should your pet be given any alcohol. If you suspect that your pet has ingested alcohol, contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center immediately or go to your local emergency veterinarian hospital. When you call ASPECA (888) 426-4435. it can take longer to get the information and that time can be important with many poisonous substances.
Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.
Nuts, including almonds, pecans, and walnuts, contain high amounts of oils and fats. The fats can cause vomiting and diarrhea, and potentially pancreatitis in pets. Macadamia nuts can cause weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and can last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
Milk and dairy products are not good for our pets either Because pets do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down lactose in milk), milk and other dairy-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset. The alternative to cows milk is goats milk for it doesn’t contain lactase so the animals are able to break it down and actually benefit from the healthy nutrients especially goat milk kefir.
We love to buy our pets presents but be cautious with so many dog toys and treats on the market, it’s hard to know what to choose and to find healthy and safe gifts for our dogs. One of the main concerns is toxins in plastic and one of the prime examples are BPA’s
If you are planning to buy toys for your pets, it would be good to use toys made of non-toxic, ‘baby safe' materials that are durable and made of natural materials.
The most dangerous toys are the cheap, plastic ones made in China, where the absence of regulations poses a serious danger to your pet’s health. Watch for toys that have pieces that can be broken off and swallowed.
I have read this before and it is great to know. I also read to make sure the Hydrogen Peroxide was a fresh unopened bottle for the best effect. It is recommended to have a small unopened bottle of Hydrogen Peroxide in your pet first aid kit with a teaspoon measuring spoon for emergencies.
Today's topic is a lovely one – how to make your pet throw up! By Dr. Karen Becker
I realize it sounds like a terrible subject, but I actually get the question quite often at my Natural Pet animal hospital. A lot of clients want to know, 'How and when do I make my dog throw up' if I think he's swallowed something dangerous?
If this isn't something you've ever considered, my opinion is it's better to be safe than sorry. It's better to have the knowledge before or if you need it, rather than need it and not have it in the middle of a crisis with your beloved companion.
If you do happen to have a dog or cat prone to sampling weird stuff around your house or yard, view this video so you'll know exactly what you need to do in an emergency, which will include having hydrogen peroxide on hand to induce vomiting.
Should I Automatically Make My Pet Throw Up, No Matter What?
Let's say you actually see your dog or cat consuming something she shouldn't. Do you automatically induce vomiting?
An animal might, for example, come up the stairs from the basement with something in his mouth. Or maybe you see your dog in the yard or behind the garage chewing on something.
Sometimes kitties consume houseplants. You might see chew or tooth marks on a plant, or notice some of the leaves looked stripped or shredded.
You don't necessarily need to induce vomiting in these situations, depending on the circumstances.
When Should You NOT Induce Vomiting?
Circumstances in which you should not make your pet throw up include:
· When he's already throwing up. Don't induce more vomiting in an already vomiting animal, because you can incite a worse vomition response.
· If your pet has lost consciousness and/or if she's very weak or has trouble standing. Do not induce vomiting in this situation because aspiration pneumonia, which can result when an animal inhales vomit into its lungs, can become a secondary problem.
· If your pet has swallowed bleach, a drain cleaner, or a petroleum distillate. These chemicals can cause burning as they are swallowed, and secondary additional burns as they come back up. Don't induce vomiting if your pet has swallowed a caustic substance.
· If it has been over two hours since your pet ingested a potential toxin. Once a substance enters your pet's small intestine, vomiting will not clear the stomach of that toxin. Inducing vomiting in a dog or cat that has already digested a potential toxin won't be effective in ridding her body of the substance.
When Should You Absolutely Induce Vomiting?
· When your pet has consumed antifreeze within the last two hours.
· When you've called your veterinarian, discussed the specific circumstances around your pet's swallowing a potential toxin, and your vet instructs you to induce vomiting.
Hydrogen Peroxide to Induce Vomiting
I recommend (and probably your own veterinarian will as well) the only substance you use at home to make your pet throw up is hydrogen peroxide.
I'm talking about three percent hydrogen peroxide – the kind you purchase at any pharmacy. Do not use the stronger, concentrated peroxide found in hair color, use only the three percent kind.
The dose is one teaspoon (five milliliters, or cc's) for every 10 pounds of body weight.
The hydrogen peroxide must be given orally to your pet. At my clinic, especially if the patient is a dog, we mix it with a little vanilla ice cream to make it palatable. I don't advocate feeding ice cream to dogs, of course, but in a situation where it's necessary to make a pet vomit, hydrogen peroxide hidden in sugary ice cream usually gets gobbled up with no argument.
You can also try using a little bit of honey if there's no ice cream on hand.
Sometimes, however, we just syringe the stuff down an animal's throat. With kitty patients, it's usually easier and more effective to syringe it.
If your pet is a dog, after you get the hydrogen peroxide down, you should walk her around for a few minutes to get her moving, which will help the hydrogen peroxide do its work.
Cats, of course, are a little harder to get moving, but getting them in motion will encourage absorption of the hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide is an irritant to the gastrointestinal tract, so it typically induces vomiting of stomach contents within 15 minutes of use. If your pet doesn't vomit within 15 minutes, you can give him a second dose. However, if another 15 minutes pass and he still hasn't vomited, don't give him a third dose of the hydrogen peroxide. It's time to call your veterinarian.
Veterinarians use specific drugs to induce vomiting in pets – apomorphine is used for dogs, and xylazine is used for kitties.
These medications are by prescription only and can only be administered by a veterinarian. They can be much more effective at inducing vomiting than hydrogen peroxide. So if your pet isn't throwing up from your at-home hydrogen peroxide treatment, you should seek veterinary care immediately.
This article is a must read to keep our pets safe from being poisoned.
I know pet owners are aware of some but do familiarize yourself with all listed. Please also watch your children with the family pet.
By Dr. Becker
Earlier this year, the Pet Poison Helpline released the top 10 household items that caused pet guardians to call for poison consultations during 2013.
According to the Helpline's Associate Director Ahna Brutlag, DVM, the list of cat toxins didn't change from last year, but a new item made it to the top 10 list for dogs: canine joint supplements. These supplements have "limited toxicity" according to Dr. Brutlag, but a few cases of liver failure following a massive overdose have been reported.
If you know or suspect your pet has ingested or been exposed to a toxic substance, call your veterinarian, a nearby emergency animal hospital, and/or the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. You can also download their Pet Poison Help iPhone app here.
Top 10 Dog Toxins in 2013
Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, which are both classified as methylxanthines. These compounds can cause hyperactivity, increased heart rate, tremors, and potentially death. The more bitter the chocolate, the more toxic it is. Bakers and dark chocolate are the most toxic, and milk chocolate can be dangerous if ingested in large amounts.
Xylitol, a sugar substitute common in sugar-free chewing gum and many other products, can cause life-threatening hypoglycemia and liver damage in dogs.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil, Motrin and Aleve, can cause GI ulcers and kidney failure.
4. Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications
Many of these preparations contain acetaminophen (a painkiller) and pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine (decongestants) and are highly toxic.
Rat and mouse poison can contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to dogs. Aside from eating the poison itself, dogs can also become sick from eating a rodent that has ingested poison. Exposure to rat and mouse poison can cause bleeding, seizures and kidney damage.
6. Grapes and raisins
These foods, even in small amounts, can cause kidney failure in dogs.
7. Insect bait stations
The danger here is primarily bowel obstruction when a dog swallows the plastic shell that contains the bait.
8. Prescription ADD/ADHD drugs
These drugs are amphetamines that can cause tremors, heart problems, seizures and death in pets.
9. Glucosamine joint supplements
These supplements are often flavored to appeal to dogs. Overdoses usually produce nothing more dangerous than diarrhea, but in rare cases, liver failure can result.
10. Oxygen absorbers and silica gel packs
Oxygen absorbers are found in packages of pet treats, beef jerky, and other consumables, and they contain iron that can cause iron poisoning in dogs. Silica gel packs are the small white packs found in new shoes, purses and backpacks.
Top 10 Cat Toxins in 2013
The variety of lily determines whether it is relatively harmless or potentially deadly. Non-toxic varieties include the Calla, Peace and Peruvian, and typically cause irritation of the upper GI tract. Toxic lilies -- including the Tiger, Asiatic, Stargazer, Casablanca, Rubrum, Day, Japanese Show and Easter lily -- can prove deadly for your cat. Just a tiny amount of any portion of these plants can cause kidney failure.
2. Household cleaners
General-purpose cleaners are relatively safe (all-natural products are a much better choice), but concentrated products like drain or toilet bowl cleaners can cause chemical burns.
3. Flea/tick spot-on products for dogs
Never use a canine flea/tick product on your cat. Depending on the ingredients in the product, just a drop has the potential to kill a cat within hours.
Cymbalta and Effexor topped Pet Poison Helpline's toxic antidepressants list in 2013. For some reason kitties are drawn to these medications, which can cause severe neurologic and cardiac effects.
Cats are more sensitive than dogs to non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and naproxen. And because kitties are so sensitive, veterinary-specific NSAIDs should be used with extreme caution, if at all.
6. Prescription ADD/ADHD medications
Just as with dogs, these drugs, which are amphetamines, can cause tremors, heart problems, seizures and death in cats.
7. Over-the-counter cough, cold and allergy medications
Many of these preparations contain acetaminophen (a painkiller) and pseudoephedrine or phenylephrine (decongestants). Acetaminophen is especially toxic to cats – it damages red blood cells and causes liver failure.
8. Plants containing insoluble calcium oxalate crystals
Peace lilies, philodendron and pothos can cause oral and upper GI irritation, foaming at the mouth and inflammation when ingested.
9. Household insecticides
If you use insecticides on your indoor plants (which I definitely do not recommend, since they are environmental toxins), make sure to keep your kitty away from plants after application until the products have dried or settled.
10. Glow sticks and glow jewelry
Many cats enjoying gnawing on glow sticks and glow jewelry. These items contain dibutyl phthalate, a chemical that can leak out and burn your cat's fur and tongue.
Sodium Bisulfate: It Might Burn Your Pet's Mouth, Throat, and Stomach - But They're Adding It to Food Anyway
June 28, 2013
By Dr. Becker
Anticipated regulations from the Food Safety Modernization Act will affect pet food production. According to PetfoodIndustry.com, as a result, product safety has jumped to the top of the priority list for pet food manufacturers.
One of the primary concerns, especially with the rash of recalls over the last few years, is that humans are being exposed to salmonella bacteria from processed pet food – in particular, dry food.
Pet food producers are implementing a variety of tactics to control salmonella contamination, including more vendor inspections, hazard analysis and critical control point plans, and hold-and-release programs. As you might expect, additives are also being looked at for their ability to control salmonella. One of those substances is sodium bisulfate.
A producer of sodium bisulfate and scientists at Kansas State University are collaborating to study the ability of this substance to prevent recontamination by salmonella after the pet food extrusion process.
Adding Sodium Bisulfate to Kibble May Help Control Salmonella Contamination
Sodium bisulfate is not to be confused with menadione sodium bisulfate, which is synthetic vitamin K3. It should also not be confused with sodium bisulfite, which is a chemical preservative used in fruits and wines.
Sodium bisulfate, also known as sodium hydrogen sulfate, is an acid salt. Its primary function is acidification. It is currently used in some processed pet foods to acidify urine, reduce pH levels, and control microbes in soft treats and liquid digest. But according to PetfoodIndustry.com, “New research conducted at independent laboratories indicates that sodium bisulfate controls Salmonella contamination on the surface of extruded dry petfood.”
Dry pet food is heat-treated twice – once during pre-conditioning and again during extrusion. The very high temperatures used in these processing steps should kill the salmonella present in the food. It is therefore suspected recontamination occurs primarily after the food is extruded – possibly inside the conveying system or from airborne dust in air-handling systems.
If either of those sources of contamination is the cause, it’s assumed the salmonella is only on the outside of the kibble. This is where sodium bisulfate comes in. It is a “surface-active” compound that is highly acidic and in a physically dry state. This means it can be turned into a powder and applied to the surface of kibble for purposes of salmonella control.
And Now for the Bad News…
The good news is pet food companies are actively searching for ways to reduce human exposure to salmonella bacteria in their products.
The bad news? Adding a substance like sodium bisulfate to dry pet food is a little like putting lipstick on a pig (no offense to pigs). The pig may look more attractive. It may not even look like a pig from certain angles, but it’s still a pig. Salmonella-free kibble is still kibble – highly processed, double heat-treated pet food that lacks moisture and other nutrients that can only be obtained from fresh, whole, real food.
In addition, you should know that sodium bisulfate isn’t an entirely benign additive. According to MedlinePlus, in humans, symptoms from swallowing more than a tablespoon of this acid can include burning pain in the mouth, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe low blood pressure.
Sodium bisulfate is produced in a “pet grade” as well as a technical grade. I wasn’t able to find a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) on the pet grade product, but the MSDS on the technical grade product states that inhalation of the substance damages the mucous membranes and upper respiratory tract. Sodium bisulfate is classified as a corrosive, so swallowing it can cause severe, even fatal burns to the mouth, throat and stomach; touching it can cause severe skin burns. Chronic exposure can result in lung irritation, tracheal bronchitis, persistent coughing, and corrosion of teeth.
The danger of salmonella poisoning from pet food is a risk to the humans serving the food – not the dogs or cats eating it. Healthy pets are able to handle a much higher bacterial load than their owners. It’s important to understand that distinction.
If you feed your pet kibble (which I don't recommend), the following simple handling precautions should keep you and your family safe from contamination:
· Wash your hands thoroughly after handling any pet food or treats.
· Don't allow very young children, elderly people or those who are immunocompromised to handle pet food or treats.
· Keep all pet foods and treats away from your family's food.
· Do not prepare pet foods in the same area or with the same equipment/utensils you use to prepare human foods.
· Do not allow pets on countertops or other areas where human food is prepared.
· Feeding pets in the kitchen has been identified as a source of infection. If you can arrange to feed your pet in an area other than your kitchen, consider doing so. Alternatively, feed your pet as far away from human food preparation areas as possible.
I don’t recommend feeding your dog or cat a commercial pet food with special additives designed to control salmonella. I’m an advocate of wholesome, natural diets for pets (and people). I’m not in favor of chemicals added to food. And I certainly don’t recommend feeding your pet or any pet a highly processed, preserved kibble dusted with a potentially corrosive substance.
This article is from Dr. Becker’s free newsletter @
I get Dr. Karen Becker's newsletter because she has very informative information in it. I love my pets and I am constantly researching information for their health and safety. I will post anything that I find alarming that I feel pet owners should be informed about.
Two Common Household Objects That Can Poison Your Pet
June 21, 2013 | By Dr. Becker
According to the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center, more than 180,000 pets were exposed to potentially toxic substances in 2012. And for the fifth year running, topping the list are prescription human medications.
Top 10 Pet Poisons in 2012
· Prescription medications (for humans). The Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) fielded 25,000 human prescription drug poisoning calls in 2012. The top three culprits were blood pressure pills, antidepressants, and painkillers (opioids and prescription NSAIDs). The most common scenario: a pet owner drops a pill on the floor and the dog grabs it right up.
· Insecticides. While only 11 percent of calls to the APCC were for insecticide poisoning, over half of all calls involving cats are related to insecticides. The APCC advises pet owners to always read the label before applying any insecticide directly on your pet, in your home, or in your yard.
· Over-the-counter medications (for humans). These drugs accounted for more than 18,000 calls to the APCC in 2012. Medications included acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), and naproxen, as well as herbal and other types of supplements (for example, fish oil). Many of these products smell or taste yummy to pets.
· Veterinary products and medications. These products accounted for about six percent of poisoning calls in 2012. Flavored pills and liquids make it easier to give supplements and medications, but it also makes them more enticing to pets.
· Household products. This category includes everything from logs for the fireplace to cleaning agents, and accounted for more than 10,000 calls to the APCC last year.
· People food. Over five percent of 2012 cases reported to the APCC concerned pets ingesting people food. One particularly problematic substance is xylitol, a sugar substitute that is highly toxic to dogs.
· Chocolate. Chocolate remains the number one toxic people food pets ingest – the APCC received over 8,500 calls last year for just this one substance.
· Plants. The APCC received over 7,000 calls about animals eating potentially toxic plants. Cats lead dogs in this category. You can refer to this excellent ASPCA resource for more information.
· Rodenticides. About four percent of calls to the APCC last year were related to rodent bait poisoning. You can learn more about the dangers of rodent bait here, here and here.
· Lawn and garden products. Fertilizers and other lawn and garden products accounted for about 3,600 calls to the APCC in 2012.
Dog Dies After Ingesting a Penny
In a very sad story out of Colorado, a little dog lost her life after eating a very common household item – a penny. Pennies produced after 1982 contain zinc, which is toxic to dogs and cats.
Sierra, a West Highland White Terrier, was always attracted to coins, according to her owner, Maryann Goldstein, in an interview with CBS Denver. In fact, as a puppy, Sierra ate 32 cents and underwent surgery to remove the coins.
This past March, Sierra became very ill and Goldstein took her to the vet. X-rays showed a quarter and a penny in her stomach. The penny, though smaller than the quarter, was the bigger problem because of its zinc content.
The reason pennies are so dangerous is because gastric acid in the stomach eats into the penny very quickly, releasing the zinc and causing it to be absorbed by the body. Zinc inhibits the production of red blood cells and the longer the exposure to the zinc, the greater the damage to red blood cells.
Zinc toxicity symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice, and red-tinged urine.
According to Dr. Rebecca Jackson, a staff veterinarian at Petplan pet insurance:
"Zinc toxicosis is more commonly seen in dogs, but cats can get sick from eating pennies, too," warned Jackson. "Be sure to bank your spare change before curious pets can get their paws on it -- and if they do, get them to the emergency vet immediately."
Smelly Socks and Shoulder Pads
According to Dr. Karen Halligan, director of veterinary services for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles, hundreds of pets require surgery every year to remove articles of clothing and similar items from their stomachs and intestines.
There was the toy Poodle that swallowed a tube sock. Dr. Halligan made the dog vomit and removed a foot-long sock from the tiny dog. Dirty socks are among the most commonly ingested items of clothing. Your pet really loves your socks because they smell like you.
There was also the Great Dane who required multiple surgeries after eating shoulder pads.
While these stories may seem funny, the fact is non-food items such as these can be very dangerous if ingested by a pet. Fabric items don’t appear on x-rays, and within about 48 hours, a pet who has swallowed a piece of clothing will have symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite and lethargy.
If ingested cloth is removed early, normally the pet has a full recovery. But if your dog (or much less commonly, your cat) eats something you aren’t aware of and time passes, the intestines will begin to die from lack of a blood supply. Sometimes the only option to save the pet is to remove the intestines. Surgeries to deal with odd things pets swallow are costly – at least $2,500 to $5,000 according to Dr. Halligan.
Left untreated, an ingested cloth item can result in a fatal case of dehydration or peritonitis caused by bacteria invading the stomach.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.