Your Pet

Protect Your Pet from Poisons

Joni Church     Do you know which foods and common household substances are dangerous to your pet? Some myths are fictitious and some facts may surprise you. You should be aware of all of the following dangerous substances and situations. Please read all of the following, and then please take the recommended measures to protect your dog and cat and other pets from all of the following.

    Chocolate is relatively safe. Although it should never be offered as a treat, don't panic if your golden retriever eats a Hershey Bar. The worst thing your large german shepherd is likely to suffer is a stomach ache. Chocolate is much more dangerous for small dogs. A chihuahua may need a trip to the animal hospital.

    Xylitol Sugar Substitute is very poisonous to cats and dogs. Xylitol sugar substitute is found in candy, sugar-free gum, and cough drops. Xylitol is advertised as a "safe, natural sweetener without the bad side-effects of sugar and artificial substitutes", however it is deadly to animals. Although xylitol has no known toxicity in humans, dogs that have ingested foods containing high levels of xylitol have experienced seizures in as little as 30 minutes and liver failure which can be fatal. If your dog or cat eats Xylitol, rush him to the vet immediately. Keep candy where your pets cannot get to it.

    Chew Toys are not relatively safe, as the experts claim. Pet stores and manufacturers claim commercial chew toys designed to be ingested are relatively safe if you buy appropriate sizes, watch for wear, and use as recommended. That is what the experts say. I say they can be inherently dangerous. A case in point is any chew toy made of rawhide or any similar substance that becomes malleable with use.

    Rawhide Bones in particular are extremely dangerous. Dogs will bury a rawhide bone and then did it up later resulting in rawhide that is now saturated and soggy. The dog can then swallow it whole. It will then block the digestive tract, so the animal must be rushed to the vet. My advice is to avoid rawhide bones altogether.

    Socks, Underwear and Nylons are unsafe if you allow your pet chew on them. Elastic materials can cause digestive tract blockage if ingested. Always keep laundry in closed hampers, and watch what your dog has in his mouth.

    Cleaning Products like disinfectants and other strong cleaning products are dangerous. If your dog drinks out of the toilet, the "blue water" toilet cleaners are less dangerous because they are diluted, but the toilet bowl tablets themselves are poisonous. Keep your toilets closed! Although some soap-based products are less dangerous, don't store any kind of cleaning products under the sink. Put them away in hard-to-reach cabinets.

    Easter Lilies are extremely dangerous to animals. Easter lilies are very lethal to cats. It takes very little of their plant material to cause kidney failure and death. Almost all types of lilies are toxic to both cats and dogs.

    Oleander is extremely poisonous. The beautiful oleander is a very popular landscaping shrub in warm areas because of their foliage's tolerance to drought and because of their beautiful red, white, pink or purple flowers. If you have any oleander shrubs on your property where children or pets have access, you should seriously consider having them removed. Oleander is one of the most poisonous plants in the world.

    Poinsettias are completely safe, but did you think poinsettias were poisonous? For years we were warned that poinsettias, those beautiful red flowering plants we display at Christmas were poisonous. Parents magazines, medical books and guides, and even doctors and veterinarians cautioned us to keep the beautiful plants out of the reach of children and pets for fear that they might nibble on the flowers or the leaves which were believed to be toxic. In fact, some books still indicate poinsettias are poisonous. Thanks to more recent testing, however, it is no longer necessary to keep your beautiful poinsettia plants on high shelves and out of reach. The long-standing belief that poinsettias were poisonous has finally been proven to be nothing more than a longstanding myth. A research study conducted at Ohio State University reveals that poinsettias are not poisonous at all. The study conclusively proved that all parts of the plant are non-toxic.

    Flowers and Fertilizer can be toxic to pets. Oddly enough many household plants which are perfectly safe for children can be toxic to animals such as lilies, azaleas, morning glories, daffodils and tulips among others. Fertilizer sprayed on the lawn can pose a health threat when it is fresh, so keep pets off a freshly fertilized lawn for at least 24 hours.

    Poisonous Plants are everywhere. In some cases just part of the plant is poisonous. In other cases the entire plant is poisonous. Some of the more common poisonous plants include: Amaryllis, Apple Trees, Autumn Crocus, Azaleas, Black Locust, Bleeding Heart, Buttercups, Castor Bean, Cherry Trees, Chrysanthemum, Cyclamen, Daphne Berries, Daffodil, Day Lilies, Dieffenbachia, Easter Lilies, Elderberry, Elephant Ear, English Ivy, Foxglove, Golden Chain, Iris, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Jasmine, Kalanchoe, Larkspur, Laurels, Lilies, Lily-of-the-Valley, Marijuana, Mayapple, Mistletoe, Monkshood, Moonseed, Morning Glories, Nightshade, Oak Trees, Oleander, Peace Lily, Poison Hemlock, Pothos, Red Sage, Rosary Pea, Rhododendrons, Rhubarb, Sago Palm, Schefflera, Star of Bethlehem, Thorn Apple, Tiger Lilies, Tulip, Water Hemlock, Wisteria Seeds, and Yew. This is not a complete list, these are just the most common.

    Table Scraps are generally OK in moderate amounts if someone slips food to your pet. However, sharing your food with your pet is highly inadviseable. It will cause behavioral problems and obesity. So unless you want your cat and dog to constantly beg at the table, never give them "people food".

    People Food which is the most dangerous and generally unhealthy for your pets include: Raw and Undercooked Meat, Eggs, Bones, Onions, Garlic, Chives, Milk and Salt. Too much of any of these people foods can make your pet very sick. Domestic pets can choke on bones, or sustain a grave injury should the bone splinter and become lodged in or puncture your pet�s digestive tract. Too much salt can even cause death.

    Raisins, Grapes, Macadamia Nuts and Avocados are all quite dangerous and can even be fatal to dogs. Macadamia nuts are commonly used in many cookies and candies. However, they can cause problems for your canine companion. Although it is not known exactly what substance is contained in grapes and raisins that are toxic, they are quite dangerous to dogs.

    Cooking Dough is also dangerous for dogs. Bread and cookie dough is dangerous because of the yeast it contains. Bread and cookie dough will expand inside a dog's stomach and become a big medical problem that may need to be addressed surgically.

    Anti-freeze and other automotive products found in the garage are extremely poisonous. Anti-freeze has a sweet smell and taste and is highly lethal, so for that reason it is extremely important to always wipe up any leaks and spills. That also goes for gasoline, oil, fertilizers and other products normally found in the garage.

    Jewelry and Pennies not only pose a potential choking hazard, they can also be extremely toxic to children and animals. For example, pennies minted after 1982 contain mostly zinc which is extremely poisonous.

    Silica Gel and Roach Motels are relatively safe. The little packets which you find in boxes and the pockets of clothing to keep products dry are harmless. The roach motel doesn't have enough insecticide to be of concern, but a box of ant and roach bait is obviously a danger.

    Cat Litter is unsafe for dogs because many dogs like to consume the contents of the cat's litter box, which may form a blockage that will require medical care. Put the litter box where the cat can get to it easily and the dog cannot.

    Medications are the most common cause of pet poisoning. Every year 140,000 pets are poisoned by medicines and other toxic substances. So keep medicine bottles out of the reach of both children and your pets. Do not induce vomiting or self-prescribe any medication to treat medication ingestion. Take your pet to the vet or animal hospital immediately.

    Garbage Can Contents are unsafe for what it might contain. If your cat or dog gets in the garbage and swallows some yarn or the cord that holds a roast together, you might need to make a trip to the vet for possible surgery. Put craft projects away and get a lidded trash can to prevent these problems.

    Act Immediately if you think your pet ingested anything unsafe. Bring with you whatever medication or other substance your pet ingested. Call the vet on the way to the animal hospital. Program these Poison Control numbers into your phone now. The National Poison Control number is 1-800-222-1222. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center number is (888) 426-4435.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has released a list of the top ten dog and cat poisons. Here is the list:

1. Human medications were the most commonly seen pet poisonings. Human medications included both prescription and over-the-counter medications involving pets which had been poisoned by ingesting their owner's medications.

2. Insecticides were number two on the list. Among these were flea and tick medicines which were used incorrectly.

3. People food was the third most commonly encountered pet poisoning, accounting for 15,000 cases of animal poisoning. Chocolate was one of the most common poisons identified.

4. Rodenticides, including rat and mouse poisons, were next on the list, accounting for 8,000 potential poisonings in animals.

5. Veterinary medications were number five on the poison list. These usually involved veterinary medications which were administered inappropriately or improperly applied by well-meaning pet owners.

6. Plants were well represented in pet poisoning cases and were the sixth most common poison. Toxic plants include azaleas, rhododendrons, sago palms, lillies and many more.

7. Chemical hazards posed a serious threat for poisoning as well. Commonly encountered poisons were antifreeze, pool and spa chemicals, paint thinners and drain cleaners.

8. Household chemicals were next, with 3200 calls relating to a pet being poisoned by ingestion, inhalation or contact. Chemicals commonly implicated were bleaches, detergents and disinfectants.

9. Heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury were ninth on the ASPCA list of common poisons, with lead being particularly prominent.

10. Finally, rounding out the list, were fertilizers used on lawns and gardens.

For more info: ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center

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