Top 10 toxins according to ASPCA, NJ veterinarian
The list of items found around the house that are deadly to dogs often shocks people, say veterinarians, who are fielding calls to poison control lines and performing emergency interventions daily.
I learned that the hard way last month, when my 2-year-old golden doodle, Lulu, sank her teeth into an asthma inhaler that she found in a bowl on my bedside table. The albuterol inside left her seriously ill for four days.
Many popular foods, cleaning products, medicines and plants can be found on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Top 10 toxins list. All of them can be life-threatening if the pet is not treated, the group warned in its annual report late last month.
“We deal with toxicity every day, and over half the time owners are not aware of the damage that could be done. They didn’t even know there was a problem until the dog starts throwing up,” said Dr. Silas Ashmore, owner of All Creatures Great and Small Animal Hospital and Urgent Care in Denville. “With toxicity, the earlier you can catch it and pump the stomach, the better. Timing is of the essence.”
The Animal Poison Control Center saw a nearly 5% increase in case volume last year, the ASPCA said.
Although symptoms can come on quickly, it also can take as long as 24 to 72 hours for them to appear, giving pet owners a false sense that they are in the clear. This is why, Ashmore said, you should get advice if your dog ingests any of the following items:
Ibuprofen, acetaminophen, cold and flu medicines and other drugs sit at the top of the ASPCA’s list of most commonly ingested hazards. Dogs typically root them out of bathrooms, kitchens, backpacks and purses.
“Things that are popular for people to use are also very common for animals to get into just because they’re in the household,” said Dr. Tina Wismer a senior director at the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center.
The legalization of marijuana in many states has been a problem for pets. Both Ashmore and the ASPCA have seen an alarming new trend, they said: the ingestion of marijuana products that cause a decrease in body temperature and changes in heart rate and blood pressure for dogs. “Prolonged sedation can lead to aspiration pneumonia,” the ASPCA counseled. “Keep all THC products, including edibles, well out of pets’ reach.”
Many of the things we eat — even healthy foods — can be deadly to our pets. That includes protein bars, grapes, toothpaste, candy and sugar-free gum. The last three items often contain xylitol, a sugar substitute that can cause insulin release and lead to liver failure, according to the American Kennel Club.
Keep medicines high up in a cabinet and make sure to take them in a separate room from dogs, advises Wismer, who collates data from emergency calls about pups in peril. Dogs are quick, and they can get to a dropped pill faster than their humans can pick them up. Keep medications in closed cabinets that pets can’t reach.
The ASPCA poison control hotline gets almost five calls an hour about pooches who have gotten their paws on this perennial favorite, making it No. 4 on its list. The darker the chocolate, the more dangerous it is, said Ashmore.
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Bouquets and plants
Azaleas, daffodils, morning glories, tulips — numerous indoor and outdoor plants are poisonous. The American Kennel Club recommends that pet owners do research before bringing plants into the home. The ASPCA maintains a list for reference.
Cleaning, beauty, car and home repair products should be kept in cabinets and drawers pets can’t open. “A lot of these toxins are sweet and they smell good, so they seek them out,” Ashmore said. “With antifreeze, you only have six hours to treat it; otherwise it shuts down the kidneys.”
Chewable medications are “super tasty to pets, which means once they try it, they may try to get into the entire container,” the ASPCA says.
The ingredients that make these poisons appealing to mice and rats also make them appealing to pets. They can cause bleeding, kidney failure and seizures in dogs. Here, Ashmore advises people to consider whether they are necessary. “Do you really need rat poison around the house?” he said.
Yard products become a problem as soon as spring arrives, Ashmore said. Ant baits, bug sprays and lawn chemicals often have pet-safe alternatives. Make sure to know what landscapers are putting down.
Since timing is critical with these toxic substances, Wismer and Ashmore both recommend keeping a fresh bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide on hand — the stuff in the brown bottle that you normally put on cuts and scrapes. Your vet may ask you to induce vomiting with it before jumping in the car with your animal. Make sure it’s a fresh bottle. Hydrogen peroxide loses its effectiveness as it loses its fizz, Ashmore said.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center can be reached at (888) 426-4435.
Gene Myers covers disability and mental health for NorthJersey.com and the USA TODAY Network. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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