This year, National Animal Poison Prevention Week is March 20 -26. Since dogs, especially young dogs, are naturally curious creatures, it is important that we know and remain vigilant about potential poisons that our inquisitive pooches may find and ingest. Numerous toxic items can be found both inside and outside the home, and many of them are surprisingly common.
- Toxic foods include chocolate, avocado, onions and garlic, raisins and grapes, alcoholic drinks, caffeinated beverages, macadamia nuts, and chewing gum with xylitol.
- Many plants (even dead or dried) are toxic to pets. In some cases, only certain parts of the plant are dangerous (leaves, fruit, seeds). Be aware of the toxic plants that grow in your home and surroundings (both cultivated and wild), and keep your pets away from them or remove them entirely. Other toxins found outside include mushrooms and garden mulch.
- Keep your pets off lawns or gardens that have been treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides. If your dog has come in contact with treated lawns or has walked on snow or ice treated with ice-melt, wipe his feet clean as soon as you get home to avoid the possibility of him licking his paws and ingesting the poison. Store all chemicals in cabinets and other places your pet can’t reach.
- Real danger to pets continues from antifreeze/coolant, even though animal-friendly products are now available (usually made with propylene glycol, not ethylene glycol). Always wipe up antifreeze leaks or spills of any size. Attracted to the sweet taste, pets can die from kidney failure if they ingest even a small amount of this very toxic material.
- Store poisonous baits to rid your home of pests (rodents, snails, insects, etc.) in places that your pooch cannot access. Like antifreeze, some baits smell sweet but are very toxic to pets, causing severe internal bleeding.
- Other household items poisonous to pets include household cleaners (the fumes can be noxious) and heavy metals such as lead, found in paint chips and linoleum.
- Consult with your veterinarian before giving your dog any vitamin, herbal supplement or medication made for humans. Even small doses of medications of any kind—whether for humans or pets—can be lethal to pets. Keep all medicines well out of your dog’s reach.
While prevention is always the best medicine to keep your dog safe from common toxins, knowing the symptoms of possible poisoning may save your pet’s life.
Symptoms of poisoning (toxicity) in your pet can include:
- Vomiting/upset stomach
- Labored OR shallow breathing
- Increased OR decreased heart rate
- Hyperactivity OR sluggishness/lethargy
- Increased thirst OR lack of thirst or hunger
- Dilated pupils
- Stumbling or staggering
- Seizures or tremors
- Loss of consciousness
If you think your dog has ingested a dangerous substance, contact your veterinarian or local animal hospital immediately. If you are advised to bring the dog into the clinic, be sure to take along the packaging of the item or a sample of the plant you think your dog may have eaten. This will help the veterinarian to know how best to treat your pet.
Vicki and Richard Horowitz, of Woodbridge, are dog behavioral therapists and trainers with Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.dog-training-new-haven-ct.com,