DOG POISON AWARENESS
Dogs, much like young children, like to explore their world with their mouths. Basically, you’ve got to think about your dog and poisons in the same way as you would a child – if your dog can reach it, there’s a good chance they will want to try it – so make sure you keep household products out of their reach.
As we know, some dogs eat just about anything, so it’s a good idea to have dog insurance for that unexpected trip to the vet.
I made the dreadful mistake of leaving slug pellets on the outside table overnight not thinking that our arthritic Border Collie would be able to reach up and get into the box (which only had a tiny flap open). Well she did and the result nearly killed her. When I woke at 6.30am to take her for a walk she could not even sit up. She was unbalanced and disorientated. I had to lift (all 27 kilos of her) into the back of our station wagon and get her to the emergency vet. $1400 later our Border Collie had been kept in overnight had her stomach pumped plus other unmentionable things. This surely taught me a lesson NEVER LEAVE ANYTHING LYING AROUND especially if it can be mistaken for food! A friend left her Thyroid medication next to her bed, when she got home the bottle was empty. She has 3 dogs and she didn’t know which one had eaten them. Again, $700 later....
Prevention is far cheaper than cure and there are some simple, common sense things you can do to protect your dog from poisoning (as well as your wallet from vet’s bills!) Keep all medication in an out of reach cabinet. Even in small doses, vitamins, cold medications, painkillers, diet pills and antidepressants can all be lethal to your dog. The same applies if you have other animals in the house as what is OK for cats may not be OK for dogs.
YOU CAN PROTECT YOUR DOG FROM POISONING BY:
Not bringing them home
Keeping them locked up or out of his reach
Being firm and refusing to give him any
Keeping your rubbish out of your dog’s reach.
Be careful with the plants around your house. Pick off wilting petals before they fall and make sure your dog cannot forage in open compost. Be especially careful with bulbs as these can be lethal to dogs if ingested.
Keep your dog away from grassy areas that have been freshly fertilised or sprayed with herbicides or insecticides – it is not safe for your dog until these have dried completely.
Always store household products in a place that your dog cannot get to.
Some Symptoms of Poisoning:
Lethargic and uninterested
Gums change colour (sometimes grey)
Oral or skin irritation
Upset stomach / Vomiting / Diarrhoea
Excitability or lethargy
Tremors / Seizures / Fitting
Dizziness / Loss of Balance
It is imperative that you contact your vet immediately if you suspect your dog has eaten any toxic substances. If the poisoning happens outside of normal working hours then contact your emergency vet – it’s a good idea to have this number somewhere handy just in case you need it! REMEMBER: The quicker you get medical attention for your dog, the more likely are its chances of survival.
What to do if you think your dog has been poisoned...
If you suspect that your dog has ingested something harmful – KEEP CALM. Contact your vet immediately and get expert advice. If you think it might be something lethal then take your dog to the vet right away – don’t wait to call.
If your dog is showing any of the above symptoms then don’t take any chances – get your dog to the vet immediately.
Check your vehicle for leaking anti-freeze or coolant and always keep unused anti-freeze out of reach of your dog.
If you need to use rodent poisons check the warnings on the packaging and place the poison where it is inaccessible to your dog.
Many types of plants and flowers can be poisonous to your dog. Check with your national poisons centre. Effects of the poisoning range from mild to severe depending on the type of plant and the quantity consumed. Some plants will only cause mild symptoms of lethargy or listlessness, while others can cause seizures, coma or even death. Learn about the plants in your garden and neighbourhood that are dangerous and be sure your dog does not have access to them. Ideally, toxic plants on your own property should be removed. Houseplants are easier to control - simply do not keep toxic plants inside your home. If you are planning to get new plants or flowers, research beforehand to learn whether or not they are toxic. Here is a list of plants that are commonly known to be poisonous to dogs, however, this is not a complete list:
Daffodil (especially the bulbs); Castor oil bush (dogs love the seeds); Cherry laurel; Laburnum (and related species); Lilies; Philodendron; Azalea; Foxgloves; Ivy (some species); Rhubarb; Yew; Alfafa (if ingested in quantity); Aloe Vera; Amaryllis; Apple (seeds); Apricot (stone); Asparagus Fern; Autumn crocus; Azalea; Baby’s Breath; Bird of Paradise; Box Caladium; Calla Lily; Casto Bean; Ceriman; Cherry (seeds and wilting leaves); Christmas Rose; Cineraria; Clematis; Cordatum; Corn Plant; Croton; Cuban Laurel; Cyclamen; Dieffenbachia, Dracaena, Dragon Tree, Elephants Ears, Emerald Fern; Geranium, Indian Rubber Plant; Kalanchoe; Mother in Laws Tongue; Marijuana; Mistletoe; Morning Glory; Narcissus; Nephytis; Deadly Nightshade; Oleander; Onion; Peach (wilting leaves and stone); Pencil Cactus; Plumosa Fern; Poison Oak; Pothos; Potato Plant; Primrose; Rhododendron; Swiss Cheese Plant; Tomato Plant (Green fruit, stems and leaves; Weeping Fig; Poinsettia; Mistletoe; and Holly Berries.
If you get a real Christmas tree try to prevent your dog from drinking the water by securing a tree skirt around it. If the tree has been treated with fertilizer then this might make your dog unwell (diarrhoea and vomiting).
Be very careful with your Christmas lilies and make sure that you clean up any pollen and fallen petals as these can cause adverse reactions if eaten by your dog. Below is a list of other household items that are poisonous to dogs.
Chocolate – Some dog owners think they are being kind to their dog by giving it a chocolate treat. The opposite could not be truer. Chocolate is highly poisonous to dogs and contains a substance known as theobromine that dogs are unable to metabolize easily. This can remain in their system for up to 20 hours causing rapid heartbeat, hallucinations, diarrhoea, seizures, internal bleeding and in severe cases, death. What’s alarming is that it only takes a small amount of chocolate to cause these symptoms. Dark chocolate is far worse than milk chocolate or white chocolate.
Wild Mushrooms – Be careful when walking your dog across golf courses and woodland/bush areas where mushrooms may grow as some varieties can be toxic to dogs. The symptoms include abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, neurological disorders and liver damage, kidney damage, convulsions, coma and death.
Onions (this includes all types of raw, dehydrated or cooked) – although onions are not a common cause of poisoning in dogs, if eaten in large amounts or if dogs are fed onions regularly in small amounts, this can cause poisoning. Symptoms include pink or red urine and this is caused by the thiosulphate contained in the onion which destroys the red blood cells and causes them to burst. Other symptoms are vomiting and diarrhoea. Note: Baby food may contain onion powder which will be harmful to your dog so keep this out of reach too.
Garlic – This contains the same toxin thiosulphate as onions, so caution must be advised. However, in small amounts, garlic does have its benefits as it is a good natural flea repellent (see our article on Flea Repellents for more information).
Grapes and Raisins – These can be fatal to your dog if eaten in large amounts. Grapes and raisins cause acute renal kidney failure. The symptoms are vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and lethargy. As the toxins affect the kidneys the less urine is produced, this causes irreversible damage and once your dog has reached this stage, death is sadly imminent.
Caffeine – this can cause similar symptoms and damage the heart, lungs, kidneys and central nervous system. Keep your dog away from caffeine pills, coffee grounds, coffee beans and large amounts of tea as this can cause death within hours.
Avocados (flesh, pit and plant) – These are all toxic to dogs if ingested. Avocados can cause breathing difficulties, fluid retention in the chest, abdomen and heart and pancreatitis.
Apple seeds, cherry pits, peach pits, and plum pits – These all contain cyanide and cause vomiting, heavy breathing, apnoea tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, coma and skin irritation.
Raw Green Beans, Kidney beans and Lima beans (butter beans) - These contain phytohaemagglutinin which leads to amino acid imbalance and causes vomiting, weakness and diarrhoea. These beans also cause amino acid imbalance and leads to problems in bone formation and causes joint problems. Phytohaemagglutinin is destroyed by cooking.
Tomato plants - These are very toxic and tomatoes are also unsafe for dogs to eat and can cause heart tremors. The same can be said forpotato and rhubarb as these contain oxalates, which can affect the digestive, nervous, and urinary systems.
Hops – these can cause panting, increased heart rate, elevated temperature, seizures, and death.
Raw fish - Can result in a thiamine (vitamin B) deficiency leading to loss of appetite, seizures, and in severe cases, death. This is more common if raw fish is fed regularly. Raw Salmon is a particular concern to dogs as this sometimes contains a parasite that is fatal. The parasite causes gastrointestinal problems similar to parvo. Call your vet immediately if your dog has ingested raw salmon; ask for a faecal sample test forrickettsial organism. This can be treated if caught in time. You can prevent this by simply cooking all fish before feeding to your dog.
Nutmeg – This is a popular Christmas spice and needs to be kept out of your dog’s way. Nutmeg can cause tremors, seizures and high levels of nutmeg can result in death.
Xyitol – This is an artificial sweetener that can often be found in chewing gum and lollies and can be fatal to your dog. When ingested, Xyitol stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, resulting in hypoglycaemia (a sudden drop in blood sugar). This can result in loss of coordination and seizures and can cause severe and permanent liver damage. If left untreated this poison can result in death.
Alcoholic beverages - These contain ethanol which is a seriously toxic chemical compound that causes central nervous system and respiratory depression.
Uncooked yeast dough – Even a small amount can rise and cause a rupture in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Yeast produces ethanol and even small amounts can cause toxicity. Signs to watch out for are, bloating, abdominal tenderness, lethargy, weakness, uncoordination and hypothermia (low body temperature). Because Ethanol is rapidly absorbed into the system, it is important to seek medical attention quickly.
Sugar and Sodium – these should be avoided as they can contribute to indigestion, obesity, dehydration, and electrolyte imbalance. Too much salt can cause kidney problems. Also, large breeds of dogs that eat salty food may then drink too much water and develop bloat, which is fatal unless emergency treatment is given very quickly.
Tobacco - cigarettes, nicotine patches, and other tobacco products may be harmful or fatal.
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