Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Toxic Hazards to Pets

CNN reported today on pet dangers. They geared it for the holidays, but most of them are dangers all year long.

"Dogs and cats do not know what is bad for them," said Dr. Cynthia Gaskill, associate professor and veterinary clinical toxicologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. "If there is medicine on the bathroom counter or food left on the table, that is irresistible to them."

And unless your houseguests are conscientious pet owners themselves, chances are they aren't aware that they may be creating a toxic environment for your pet. Gaskill says it is important to let guests know not to leave their medications in an open suitcase or otherwise exposed.
Over-the-counter and prescription medications can kill small animals.

Because metabolic systems vary between species, a drug that may alleviate pain in humans can easily induce a toxic reaction in a dog or cat. For example, ibuprofen ingested by a dog can cause gastrointestinal damage and kidney dysfunction. Cats are especially susceptible to even small amounts of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol); ingestion of just one tablet can result in anemia and potential liver damage.

"Dogs will eat almost anything," [Dr. Robin] Van Metre[, a veterinarian at the Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Colorado,] said, "and there is no such thing as a dog-proof cap."

Here are more things that can hurt your pet (emphasis added):

Typical holiday staples such as grapes and raisins have been shown to cause renal failure when ingested by dogs.

Although small amounts of onions and garlic are often used in pet foods and treats to add flavor, ingestion of large amounts can cause severe red blood cell damage; cats are especially sensitive.

Macadamia nuts can cause a short-term hind-limb paralysis, and bread dough, if eaten before baking, can expand rapidly once ingested and cause ethanol poisoning.

Chocolate contains a theobromine, a chemical that can affect the heart, kidneys and central nervous system. Dark chocolate and baker's chocolate contain higher concentrations of theobromine and are more toxic than similar amounts of milk chocolate.

Sugar-free gums and candies that contain the sugar-substitute xylitol can lead to quick onset of toxic clinical signs that may include a rapid decrease in blood sugar and possible seizures.

On the plant side of things, there's more danger with a little bit of good news thrown in:

Think carefully before placing mistletoe or holly in low-lying areas, but put poinsettias anywhere you like. The effects of the poinsettia, long believed poisonous, are generally benign, says Dr. Anthony Knight, author of A Guide to Poisonous House and Garden Plants and professor of clinical sciences and toxicology at Colorado State University School of Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences.

Exposed plant bulbs such as Amaryllis and all species of lilies should be placed out of reach of pets not only during the holidays but year-round, Knight says.

Lily toxicity in cats can reach critical levels almost immediately after ingestion and lead to acute kidney failure within 48 hours or less.

"Lilies are one of the most poisonous houseplants that exists," Knight said. "It's not just the flower but also the leaves. ... If a cat eats any part of the plant, it would need to be treated immediately."

There you have it. If your dog eats like a dog with the wrong things, or your cat nibbles on dangerous decor, call the vet right away! Don't wait.


Christina said...

I can say a hearty "AMEN" to the ibuprofen toxicity and its nasty effects on dogs. You do NOT want to go there.

Interesting about the poinsettia plants though. I have always heard that they were very poisonous.

Good warning.

SkyePuppy said...

I also like the part where the vet said there's no such thing as a dog-proof cap. Too right!

Bekah said...

LOL - Christina - I was thinking of you all the way through that!

My cats are blessed with a food loving owner, so they only get crumbs. are you kidding me? unless it's a vegetable, I'm not sharing it!!!