Dr. Dallas Reports on Accidental Pet Poisoning

Dr. Dallas Reports on Accidental Pet Poisoning

Allow me to set up a scenario for you:

You are just getting home from work, or grocery shopping, or picking up the kids, or working outside… In any case, when you walk through the door you are met with a scene that no pet owner ever wishes to encounter: your dog or cat has gotten into something. If you are lucky, it is just a spilled pile of mail, or maybe a torn up pillow. But what if it’s not? What if they have gotten into some medications, household cleaners, or maybe even a box of chocolates?

Do you know what to do in a situation where you pet has potentially ingested something that could do them serious harm?

Each year, thousands of pets in North America suffer accidental ingestion of potentially deadly substances that have been found in and around their home. The key to saving your pet from an unintentional poisoning is education. In this blog, we will discuss how to prevent pet poisoning incidents and what to do if you believe that your pet has ingested something toxic.

Not everyone is lucky enough to only have a few pillows destroyed…

PREVENTION

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

– Benjamin Franklin

The best way of saving yourself the headache (and potential heartache) of a pet accidentally ingesting something toxic is to be aware of what items within your home are poisonous to your animals and making sure that they are safely stored in a place that your dog or cat cannot get to.

Toxic Substances

A full list of substances toxic to dogs and cats can be found here, but the most common ingested items are:

  • Alcohol
  • Antifreeze
  • Chocolate
  • Fertilizer
  • Lilies
  • Mouse/Rat Poison and
  • Onions and Garlic
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Tylenol (acetaminophen)
  • Advil (ibuprofen)

Remove Temptation

Once you have familiarized yourself with what items in the home can be a potential danger to your pet(s), the next step is to do something about them. You need to eliminate your pet’s access to these items, which can be accomplished in a number of ways:

  • Crate your pet when you are not able to supervise them.
  • Make use of baby gates or other barriers to stop animals from entering areas where harmful items are kept.
  • Store dangerous items in a locked cupboard, or out of reach entirely (even from counter-surfing animals) on a high shelf.
  • Swap out the use of rodenticides and insecticides with traps but keep them far from your pet’s access. Don’t forget unwanted critters can track poisons to other locations around the home if they walk through them. Also, an avid mouser may potentially ingest mouse/rat poison if they catch the offender after it has been exposed.
  • Keep the clutter to a minimum – meaning, remove any enticing items (ie. chocolates, scented lotions, flavoured medications) from counters and side tables.
  • Invest in trashcans with a secured lid, or keep them behind closed cupboard doors or in inaccessible rooms.
  • Clean up spills immediately (ie. antifreeze or de-icers in the garage, coffee grinds or table salt in the kitchen).
  • Close toilet lids after use, especially if you use automatic toilet bowl cleaner in the tank, or stick-on pucks on the inside of the bowl.
  • Eliminate toxic flowers from any bouquets or potted plants received and displayed.
  • Hang your purse out of reach on a hook, or store in a closed closet.
  • Keep pets off of lawns that have been sprayed with commercial herbicides.
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When they are not being supervised, the best place for a mischievous pup is their crate!

Be Ready

It is always recommended that you have your pet’s information on-hand. This means an accurate description of your pet and their medical history available in case you, or anyone else, need to go to the nearest veterinary clinic in an emergency situation. Keep a folder handy that is clearly labelled and indicates the following:

  • Pet’s Name, including the last name they are registered with. It is especially important to keep registered last names the same if you go to more than one clinic.
  • Age, Sex and Breed/Species
  • Up-to-date Weight
  • List of any underlying Medical Conditions
  • List of any Current Medications

It is also important to have necessary contact information readily available. This would include the name of your veterinarian and their clinic’s phone number and address, as well as an after-hours emergency clinic should you require assistance outside of regular business hours. The information for emergency services such as the Pet Poison Helpline would also be useful. Be sure to include all of your own contact information as well, in case it is a house-sitter or dog-walker that has encountered the emergency situation.

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WHAT TO DO

Despite your best efforts the worst has happened – you suspect your pet has ingested something that they shouldn’t have and you are concerned that it could pose a serious health risk. There are a number of steps that you need to take, and you need to act fast. Time is a factor here, even if your pet is not yet displaying symptoms of poisoning. The sooner your pet is diagnosed, the sooner they can be treated and the better chance they have of being okay.

Tend to the Area

First things first, safely remove your pet from the immediate area in order to eliminate continued exposure to (or ingestion of) the potentially toxic material. Also remove any other pets or children that could be harmed by exposure to the substance in question. If possible, quarantine the area as you may not have time to adequately clean it in the moment.

Tend to the Animal

Next, check that your pet is safe. Make sure they are breathing and acting normally. Resist the temptation to give them any type of home remedy or to induce vomiting yourself. Either of these can be very dangerous and you may inadvertently cause more harm than good.

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Get Help

Contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately for further instructions (if you are travelling with your pet, be sure to research while you are making travel plans where the nearest veterinary clinic and emergency animal hospital are located). It would be prudent to be prepared with as much information as possible regarding the incident. This information will be dependent on the situation and the material ingested. Here is a basic guideline on what you may be asked about the material ingested:

  • Plant – What is the name of the plant? Is it a houseplant, outdoor plant or weed? Which part of the plant was ingested (bulb, leaves, flowers, stem, fruit)? How much was consumed?
  • Medication – What is the name of the drug? What is the milligram strength? How much of medication was potentially consumed (ie. how many tablets were in the bottle and how many are remaining)?
  • Chemical – What is the brand name of the product? What are the active ingredients and concentration of those ingredients? What are the label warnings? How much was ingested (ie. what was the original weight of the product and how much remains)?

If you need to immediately go to a veterinarian and do not have time to contact them, be sure to collect up all the wrappers/packaging from the item and take them with you.

You will most likely also be asked about the scenario in which the material was consumed as well. Be prepared to answer the following questions:

  • How long ago did ingestion occur? If your pet was unattended when it happened, how long were they alone (thus how long ago could they have potentially gotten into the product)?
  • Is your pet currently displaying any abnormal behaviour, such as pawing at their mouth, pacing, whining, drooling, etc.?

While these questions may be tough to answer, it is important that you do so calmly and to the best of your ability in order to receive the best guidance and care for your pet.

We hope that you will never have to refer to this guide, but if you do, here are some names and numbers that we feel you should always have accessible:

Snelgrove Veterinary Services (That’s us!)
Tel.: 905-846-3316
11526 Hurontario Street, Brampton
Located on Hwy 10, South of Mayfield Road and North of Concervation Drive/Wanless Street

Emergency Veterinary Clinic of Brampton (After-hours clinic)
Tel.: 905-495-9907
1 Wexford Drive, Unit 10, Brampton
Located in the Wexford Square Plaza, on Highway 10 just South of Bovaird Drive

Pet Poison Helpline (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 855-764-7661

Mississauga Oakville Veterinary Emergency Hospital (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 905-829-9444
2285 Bristol Circle, Oakville

404 Veterinary Emergency + Referral Hospital (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 905-953-1933
510 Harry Walker Parkway South, Newmarket

Toronto Veterinary Emergency Hospital (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 416-247-8387
21 Rolark Drive, Scarborough

Veterinary Emergency Clinic (South) (Open 24 hours)
Tel.: 416-920-2002
920 Yonge Street, Suite 117, Toronto

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Holiday tips for you and your pets.

Winter is fast approaching and here at Snelgrove Veterinary Services we would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday! Here are some winter/ holiday tips to keep your pets happy and healthy.

Winter

Cold weather, slush, ice, and snow are all synonymous with winter. It is important that we remember to keep our pets warm and dry too. Sweaters and coats are a great investment for short-haired dogs and dogs that are clipped. Heavier coated dogs will develop an undercoat to help them maintain their natural heat but dogs that are groomed and short-haired dogs are lacking in this undercoat. Hypothermia can set in very quickly, having severe side effects. Watch out for ice and snow sticking to the bottom of their feet, especially between their pads. This can make it very uncomfortable for a dog to walk and can cause cracking and chaffing of the area. Older dogs benefit from wearing footwear in the winter due to arthritis. Never use a snow blower with your pet present. The loud noise will often scare them and the blades are extremely dangerous.

Dry Coats

Many pets suffer from dry skin through the winter months due to heating our homes. Omega fatty acid supplements are a great way to moisture their skin and prevent dandruff and itchiness.

Exercise

Many pets gain weight through the winter months. Consider switching to a lower calorie food, decreasing the amount they get, or better yet, continue to exercise them. Reflective gear is a great idea as it gets dark earlier in the evening.

Car care

Take extra precaution when starting your car. Pets and wildlife sometimes climb into the engine area of cars for warmth and to get out of the wind and snow. Bang your hood before getting into your car or press your electronic lock button/horn to activate a sound prior to starting your car to hopefully encourage them to run out.

Ethylene glycol, a sweet-tasting, odorless liquid, is the active ingredient in antifreeze/engine coolant. Ethylene glycol can also be found, in lower concentrations, in some windshield de-icing agents, hydraulic brake fluid, motor oils, solvents, paints, film processing solutions, wood stains, inks, printer cartridges, etc. Be extra vigilant when topping up these fluids that they do not spill onto your driveway or into the snow.

While these liquids smell and taste sweet to pets they are extremely toxic and therefore require immediate attention for the best chance of survival.

If you suspect or know your pet has ingested Ethylene Glycol it is critical that you bring your petto a veterinary clinic immediately, or if he is exhibiting any of the early symptoms. Do not wait; time is of the essence and immediate treatment is essential! Left untreated, the animal will die. Dogs must be treated within 8-12 hours of ingesting antifreeze, while cats must be treated within 3 hours of ingesting antifreeze, as the antidote only has a narrow time period to work.

­Common signs to watch for:

  • Drunkenness
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Sedation
  • Halitosis
  • Lethargy
  • Coma
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Death

Holiday Cheer

Now is the season for socializing with family and friends. Be careful to keep alcohol and food well out of reach of your pets. Keep a bowl of dog treats handy for guests to offer your pets rather than them offering food from their plates. Label it in a fun way, such as, “Fido’s Christmas Cheer!!” or use a cute saying “If you feel the need to feed me something yummy, please be careful of my tummy and use only treats put out by my Mommy” to remind your guests of appropriate pet treats.  

Decorations

We all love to make our homes into a Christmas Wonderland, but be careful where these decorations are placed. Keep decorations elevated away from your pets and be sure to secure your christmas tree from potentially being knocked over. Never leave candles unsupervised and never leave wrapped boxes of chocolate under the tree. Your pet will be able to smell it! Keep your pets away from poinsettia, mistletoe, holly berries and lilies, all of these have the potential to make your pet quite sick. Lilies in particular to cats, are extremely toxic even without ingestion. Just having them in the house can be fatal to your cat.

From our website http://www.snelgrovevet.com