For those of you just tuning in, we have been posting different facts each day on different forms of animal abuse. In honor of Prevention of Animal Cruelty month (also referred to as Prevention of Animal Abuse month) we hope these facts help you to understand what is abusive and what needs to be done to prevent these things from happening.
Today’s topic is Poisoning. In 2012, there were more than 100,000 cases of pet poisoning in the United States. This number can so easily be decreased, just by making yourself aware of harmful household items. This post will inform you of things to look out for from certain household cleaners to neighbors with bad intentions.
Preventing Intentional Poisonings
According to the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC), an average of 200 dogs per year are poisoned intentionally. The reasoning behind these poisonings are most typically because an animal has disturbed a neighbor or relative.
What can pet owners do to prevent this?
If you are aware of a problem between your pet and your neighbor or relative, always try to work it out civilly. Recognize the problem, and the solution. If it is something you know you can fix, fix it – for example if your dog is barking to come inside, let him in right away instead of making him wait, leaving him to bark for a long period of time, bothering your neighbors. Showing your neighbors respect will go a long way.
If it is past the point of civilly working things out and you suspect your pet is at risk, don’t hesitate to contact authorities. Also, make sure to keep your dog in sight at all times.
One of the first measures to take if you suspect your animal may be in danger of being poisoned is to observe your neighbors. See if their behavior reflects ill feelings toward your pet. If this is the case, talk to them. Also, be on the lookout for foreign objects and food products in your yard. If you see something suspicious, call your vet or the NAPCC at (888) 426-4435. If you find food products, freeze a sample of them immediately. This preserves the substance for lab testing by authorities.
There are many things that can poison an animal. Pesticides and insecticides are common in cases of intentional and accidental poisonings. Rodent poisons are also common. If you suspect these substances were used, look for bluish-green pellets in areas frequented by your pet, as well as in its stool.
Because animals are attracted to its sweet taste, antifreeze can easily be used to taint an animal’s food or drink. In cases of antifreeze ingestion, look for florescent green vomit. Also, switching to a low-toxicity brand of antifreeze can help reduce the risk of a fatal poisoning.
Prevent Accidental Poisonings
Many household items can prove to be lethal to your pets – it is important to know what they are and know how to keep your animals away from them.
Be Careful What You Plant
We don’t always think about our pets when we’re at the store shopping for flowers to plant. We usually just go by what looks pretty, what gets sun and what needs shade. But many plants are actually poisonous to pets and should absolutely be taken in consideration before buying and planting.
Plants that are not toxic to people, like the hibiscus, those in the Easter lily family, mistletoe, and Dieffenbachia may cause medical problems in pets, such as renal failure, irregular heartbeats, cardiac shock and even death. Other examples of toxic plants include azalea, oleander, castor bean, sago palm, azalea, rhododendron and Japanese yew.
Of course, if you already have these plants planted, and they’ve been growing there for years, we don’t expect anyone to just dig them up and throw them out. Instead access the location. If the plant is already somewhere where the animal can not get to, can not chew or dig up, then leave it alone. If it is in a high-pet traffic zone, you may want to replant it to a different location, one that is unreachable to your animals.
Another issue with plants and nature is that unfortunately we live in a world that uses highly dangerous chemicals to either help grass or plants grow, kill bugs, etc. Though you may not see it or know it, the grass your pets are walking on may be contaminated. If your pet starts to eat the grass, it may get very sick. It may also get sick just by having those chemicals on their paws and fur.
Of course, we’re not suggesting you don’t let your pets outside ever. But know where you are walking them or letting them roam. If you have cats, you may want to consider an indoor mini-lawn for nibbling. When you let your cat outdoors to roam free, you never know where it may roam, and in turn what kind of chemicals it may eat or get on its fur.
If your pet does chew on a plant, immediately remove the plant from its mouth and rinse the mouth gently with water. Identify the plant your pet ate and call the poison center or your veterinarian. Watch for excessive or foamy salivation and changes in the skin around the mouth, eyes or paws.
People Foods, Chemicals and Medications
(Taken from www.americanhumane.org)
People often make the mistake of thinking that people food is okay for pets. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it is not. Here are some foods to avoid giving to your pets:
- Milk is not easily digested by most adult animals and can cause them to develop diarrhea.
- Bones are very dangerous. They can lodge in a dog’s passageways or cut its intestines.
- Chocolate, especially baking chocolate, can be lethal and should be avoided at all times.
- Onions, Garlic, Chives – These vegetables and herbs can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could lead to red blood cell damage. Although cats are more susceptible, dogs are also at risk if a large enough amount is consumed.
- Rich, fatty foods such as turkey skins or gravy can cause pancreatitis, and inflammation of a digestive gland, and can be very painful and serious.
- Grapes and raisins can lead to loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain and acute renal failure in dogs, resulting in death.
- Coffee is also dangerous to animals. Watch out for grounds and whole beans.
- Nicotine is a stimulant that can increase the heart rate, leading to collapse, and in the worst case, death.
- Alcoholic beverages should be kept away from animals at all times. Alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
- Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.
- Macadamia Nuts have caused weakness, depression, vomiting, tremors and hyperthermia in dogs. Signs usually appear within 12 hours of ingestion and last approximately 12 to 48 hours.
- Yeast Dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your pet’s digestive system. This can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture.
- Raw/Undercooked Meat, Eggs and Bones can contain bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that can be harmful to pets. In addition, raw eggs contain an enzyme called avidin that decreases the absorption of biotin (a B vitamin), which can lead to skin and coat problems.
- Xylitol is used as a sweetener in many products, including gum, candy, baked goods and toothpaste. It can cause insulin release in most species, which can lead to liver failure. The increase in insulin leads to hypoglycemia (lowered sugar levels). Initial signs of toxicosis include vomiting, lethargy and loss of coordination. Signs can progress to recumbancy and seizures. Elevated liver enzymes and liver failure can be seen within a few days.
- Salt can produce excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning in pets. Signs that your pet may have eaten too many salty foods include vomiting, diarrhea, depression, tremors, elevated body temperature, seizures and even death. In other words, keep those salty chips to yourself!
Prevent accidents from happening
Be as vigilant at poison-proofing your house for a pet as you would be for a child. Keep cleaning products in a high, closed cabinet. There should be nothing below counter level because liquid drain cleaners, as well as tub and tile cleaners, can be lethal. Also, take precautions in the garage – bags of insecticide and auto care liquids need to be stored high off the ground.
Another critical step in avoiding pet poisonings is to read labels. Flea control is commonly labeled specifically for dogs or cats. This is because the agents used for dogs are not safe for cats. Follow the label directions and amounts correctly.
Some pet owners may mistakenly think that the medications used to treat human symptoms will work for animals, as well. Never give your animal a human medication. Even something as simple as aspirin can be lethal to your pet. Products such as acetaminophen and any aspirin product can cause stomach bleeding in your pet. Medications such as birth control and vitamins can also cause internal bleeding.
Cats tend to be attracted to unusual flavors, so keep them away from calamine lotion, diaper rash ointments, sunblock and analgesic ointments. These products contain an acid related to those in aspirin and will prove toxic if ingested.
And remember, administer only medications prescribed or approved by your veterinarian.
What To Do if Your Pet is Poisoned
If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, you should know how to react in this stressful situation. Remember, not all chemicals and poisons will lead to death but the situation is still extremely pressing and should be handled as soon as possible.
Post your veterinarian’s telephone number in a convenient location. You should also post the address and number of a nearby emergency clinic, along with the number of the National Animal Poison Control Center (NAPCC), which is (888) 426-4435.
Because neighborhood veterinary clinics rarely see poisonings, the NAPCC is a unique resource for both pet owners and veterinarians. They employ a staff of veterinarians and licensed technicians who are skilled in veterinary toxicology and are available 24 hours a day. The NAPCC can provide very detailed treatment protocols to your veterinarian.
Take immediate action
If your pet ingests poison, make sure to observe the animal closely. To treat a poisoning successfully, it’s helpful to have a history of your pet’s symptoms, including when the symptoms were first noticed, where the animal has been in the past few hours, and whether anything has been seen in the yard (pieces of uneaten meat, any vomit with discoloration), or passed through the stool.
Provide a history
Providing a detailed history of symptoms to your veterinarian is critical. Immediately collect and preserve any vomit, food products you may find, medication bottles and stool samples to help your vet rule out or determine intentional poisoning. Freezing vomit and stool samples is the best method to preserve them as evidence. You can do this yourself, or take it to your vet to freeze and later send to a laboratory for testing.
As a concerned pet owner, it’s up to you to provide your vet with information that could potentially save your pet’s life. Symptoms are important as they allow vets to work backward and figure out the cause. Only after other explanations can be ruled out can your vet explore the idea that someone may have maliciously poisoned the animal.
Invest in an emergency first-aid kit for your pet
The kit should contain:
- A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide, 3 percent USP (to induce vomiting)
- A turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe (to administer peroxide)
- Saline eye solution
- Artificial tear gel (to lubricate eyes after flushing)
- Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing an animal after skin contamination)
- Forceps (to remove stingers)
- A muzzle (to protect against fear- or excitement-induced biting)
- A can of your pet’s favorite wet food
- A pet carrier
Always consult a veterinarian or the APCC for directions on how and when to use any emergency first-aid item.
Remember – In regards to safety, having a pet is no different than having a child. Precautions must be taken at all time. When getting your first pet, be sure to pet-proof your house before bringing them in. Letting your pet get sick because of sheer neglect and ignorance is unacceptable. Be the responsible pet owner your pet needs you to be.