As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Poison Prevention Week, save yourself (and your pet) a veterinary visit by learning how to avoid the poisoning to begin with!This week, part 2 of pet-proofing your entire house — a follow-up to last week’s Celebrate Poison Prevention with Easy Tips. Thanks to Pet Poison Helpline for reminding us how to keep our four-legged friends safe too.
- Despite their name, mouse and rat poisons can kill more than just that — they can pose a danger to your dog and cat as well. Secondly, these mouse and rat poisons can result in "relay toxicity" to wildlife. In other words, birds of prey (e.g., raptors) that rely on mice as their primary food source can be accidentally poisoned. When in doubt, the safest — and most humane — type of mouse and rat "rid-away" is actually an old-fashioned mouse trap (which rapidly snaps their neck instead of taking days to slowly kill them). If you need to use these poisons in your home, consult your veterinarian on how to pick the safest one for your pet (one type of anti-coagulant poison comes with an antidote, Vitamin K1).
- When using insecticides in your home or on your pets, always take the extra 1-2 minutes to read the label carefully. Never use flea and tick products meant for "small dogs or big cats," as it can cause life-threatening reactions (including severe signs of tremors, seizures, hyperthermia (fever), etc.). Make sure you know the real weight of your pet, that you apply the product properly, and that you allow it to dry as appropriate.
- While you may remember safely eating Elmer’s glue as a kid, some types of glues can be very dangerous (and expensive to treat) for pets. When in doubt, keep all glues out of reach. Certain types of glues (such as Gorilla Glue) expand greatly when the bottle is accidentally punctured by a dog. In these X-rays provided by Pet Poison Helpline, you can see how the glue rapidly expands into the stomach, requiring surgical removal. Just one ounce of glue may expand to the size of a basketball. When in doubt, keep this and any glue out of reach!
Above: Pet Poison Helpline suggests that pet owners be very careful to keep glues out of the reach of pets. Shown on the left is a healthy dog’s stomach, and on the right is the stomach of a dog that ingested 1.5 ounces of Gorilla Glue 12 hours earlier.
(Courtesy of Dr. Catherine A. Angle, Pet Poison Helpline)
- Antifreeze products contain ethylene glycol, which is extremely poisonous to all species. Unfortunately, due to the sweet taste often found in antifreeze, its taste can be appealing to pets. As little as a few teaspoons can kill a dog or cat. If you see antifreeze spilled, clean it up immediately by applying kitty litter to absorb it, sweeping it up, and then further diluting the area with several gallons of water. With antifreeze poisoning, the antidote must be administered within 8-12 hours in dogs, and within 3 hours in cats to ensure survival.
- Keep all automotive products, such as windshield cleaner fluid or brake fluid, away from pets. Some of these products contain methanol or hydrocarbons, respectively, and can result in moderate to severe poisoning.
Yard and Garden
- Even organic fertilizers, such as bone, blood or fish meal, can pose a "poison" risk to pets. These products are very palatable (as they smell good to dogs), and can result in severe vomiting, diarrhea, pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), and a foreign body obstruction when ingested. Keep bags tightly sealed and out of your pets’ reach, and be sure to use products according to label instructions.
- For those living in the Pacific Northwest region of North America, be careful when applying snail or grub killers to your lawn. Many of them contain the active ingredient metaldehyde, which can result in severe tremors and seizures when ingested by dogs and cats.
- Certain flower and yard insecticides contain organophosphates or carbamates that can be deadly to dogs and cats when ingested. While these chemicals aren’t used as commonly anymore, Pet Poison Helpline still sees severe poisoning from these active ingredients.
If you think your pet may have ingested something harmful, take action immediately. Contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-213-6680. When it comes to a pet poisoning, the sooner you call and seek treatment advice, the less stressful, traumatic, and expensive it is!
Dr. Justine Lee