With spring just around the corner, our pets will have even more opportunities to come into contact with substances they should avoid. This is the time of year when most of us put fertilizer in the yard, spray a bug barrier around the house and plant flowers in the garden. Did you know these activities can be dangerous for our pets? The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) wants to let pet owners know that the week of March 20 is Animal Poison Prevention Week and there are many things pet parents can do to have a safe and happy spring.
What every pet owner should know is that some of the most common of household substances can toxic, even lethal, to our pets. The following are a list of some everyday items the CVMA says pet owners should keep away from their animals.
- Xylitol – Xylitol is a sweetener used in mostly in sugarless gums, such as Trident, Orbit and Ice Breaker brands. However, some candies, mints, and even flavored vitamins can contain xylitol. Ingesting small amounts can result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar levels, and ingesting large amounts can cause liver failure. Xylitol poisoning symptoms in dogs include vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, tremors and seizures.
- Human Medications – Common drugs that we keep in our homes can cause serious harm to our pets. These medicines include NSAIDs such as Advil, Aleve and Motrin; acetaminophen found in Tylenol; and antidepressants such as Cymbalta and Prozac are extremely dangerous to pets. Acetaminophen can damage red blood cells in cats, limiting their ability to carry oxygen, and in dogs can lead to liver failure. According the Pet Poison Helpline antidepressant poisonings account for the highest number of the calls they receive. Ingesting these medications can lead to serious neurological problems like sedation, agitation, incoordination, tremors and seizures.
- Flowers – Easter is April 24 and people will be giving, receiving and even growing flowers in their backyards. Despite their beauty, some flowers are toxic to cats. Lilies, such as tiger, day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese lilies, are highly poisonous to cats. Kidney failure can occur by merely ingesting a few petals, leaves or even pollen. Medical reactions can also occur from certain spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips which can result in vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. More serious reactions include abnormal heart rate and changes in breathing.
- Chocolate – If your children receive chocolate bunnies and eggs for Easter, be sure to keep them away from your dog. While a chocoloate chip from a cookie may not do much harm, chocolate in large quantities can toxic to dogs. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate are the most dangerous. Chocolate contains methylxanthines (related to caffeine) and causes vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures and possibly death.
- Fertilizers – Most fertilizers are basic gastrointestinal irritants, but when combined with chemicals called organophosphates or carbamates, are deadly to pets. Be sure to keep pets away from these products both in the garage and in the yard during the spring fertilizing season. Symptoms of fertilizer poisoning include drooling, watery eyes, urination, defecation, seizures, difficulty breathing and fever.
- Pest Control Products – Spring is the time of year for house and yard pests, such as rodents, bugs and slugs, to multiply and many of us use pesticides around our homes and in our yards. Be sure to keep pets away from these products as you use them around the house. These highly toxic substances require immediate veterinary attention or they can be fatal. Rodent baits can cause blood clotting disorders, brain swelling or kidney failure while bug baits can cause tremors or seizures.
Both the CVMA and the Pet Poison Helpline recently worked with VPI Pet Insurance to create several videos to give pet owners more information and advice. You can find them at Pet Poison Helpling Ask the Vet. Pet owners can also call the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. If you think your pet has ingested a poison, take them to the vet immediately.