Curiosity killed the cat - but dogs can be victims, too. Delving into everyday household items can put your pet at risk, so how do you protect them?
Everything that smells and tastes good to your dog isn’t necessarily doing much for their body. According to ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) Each year, around 130,000 sick and injured pets are victims of poisoning – and nine out of ten are dogs.
And the sources of the poisoning problem? Chemicals, drugs, plants, poisons in food, garden and household products and waste, even other animals – the list is endless.
The major cause for concern is that owners can be innocently feeding or exposing their dog to an item, unaware of its poisonous potential. The trouble with poisons is that they can exist in the most unlikely foods and products.
At the same time, many products which we know to be so obviously toxic such as antifreeze, petrol or creosote, have pungent attractive smells and it is not unheard of for dogs to lap these substances up. Believe me, curiosity kills as many dogs as cats.
The Commonest Household Causes Of Dog Poisoning
Chocolate: Because we like to share the odd tasty tidbit with our canine companions, it’s worth knowing the treats from the toxins. After all, one person’s treat can be a another dog’s poison and like it or not, chocolate is a prime offender.
Anyone who regularly feeds their dog chocolate could be killing them with kindness, because chocolate contains the canine poison theobromine.
While Theobromine poisoning is uncommon, the consequences are devastating. I know a case of a Collie dog dying after consuming an entire tub of cocoa and a Dachshund that collapsed due to a chocolate bar overdose. Dog owners just don’t want to believe that a common treat like chocolate can be fatal- but it’s true.
Small dogs are particularly at risk of chocolate poisoning. The toxic dose is between 100 – 250mg of Theobromine per kilo of the dog’s weight; 100mg of chocolate contains 160mg of Theobromine, so a small bar of chocolate is sufficient to poison a very small dog such as a Chihuahua, weighing a mere 1.5kg.
Cocoa is the worst offender, followed by plain and then milk chocolate. Doggy drops are the safe option for chocoholic dogs, but don’t overdo it – think of their waistline!
Cores for concern: Another little treat with a sting in the tail is the apple core; the pips are poisonous. Like pear pips and the kernels of plums, peaches and apricots, they contain cyanide and in large quantities can prove fatal. A pip-free slice of apple makes a healthy alternative and avoids a trip to the vet.
Pills and potions: Sometimes when a dog falls ill, owners may be tempted to try a home cure. Don’t! Although administered with the’ best of intention, many lotions, potions and pills designed for human consumption are poisonous to pets. Even bathing a dog’s wounds in an ordinary family antiseptic may cause inflammation of the animal’s tongue if they lick the affected area.
- Tragedy can also strike when a dog is given his owner’s medication by mistake and this is a surprisingly common cause of dog poisoning in pet-owning households. Keeping the drugs in separate places or adopting a colour code system often avoids the chance of a repeat performance.
- Child-proof, does not always mean pet-proof. Plastic bottles, besides making an entertaining rattle, are also easy or dogs to bite through and consume the contents.
- If you share your home with cats as well as dogs, then it’s worth knowing that flea preparations formulated for cats can be poisonous to dogs and vice versa. So as well as following the on-pack instructions, keep the ‘treated’ pet separate from the others for a while to avoid him being licked.
Homes and gardens: The home and garden present a plethora of dog poisoning possibilities. It’s best not to assume that something noxious or inedible will appear the same to a dog – it won’t, thanks to your pet’s instinct and natural inquisitiveness.
Organophosphate poisoning is deadly serious, with typical symptoms including tremors, fits, salivating and dilated pupils. Veterinary attention is a must in all cases.
Dogs are especially fond of the sniff and lick test, so highly toxic household bleaches and detergents should never be smeared on surfaces where pets have access. If bleach is used in the toilet, outwit the thirsty dog by keeping the seat down, or one lap could be his last.
Fly strips: Plastic fly strips which are impregnated with the chemical methomyl, are potentially lethal to dogs and other small animals, don’t hang them in your home or closets.
The great outdoors is not so great for dogs tempted to sample a little of what they fancy, only to find it’s poisonous. Dogs are fascinated by toads – until they lick them.
Toad venom is extremely toxic, quick-acting and the symptoms dramatic: a dog will salivate excessively and repeatedly paw at his mouth. Immediate veterinary treatment is necessary as the animal’s health can deteriorate very quickly. When it comes to dog poisoning worst cases, eating a toad is almost certainly fatal.
Dogs, like some humans, can experience an allergic reaction to bee and wasp stings and even die from a multiple attack.
Toxic plants:You cannot and would probably never want to rid your garden of wildlife but dog owners should be serious about poisonous plants.
While it is not good for the plant to have your dog digging in the roots and chewing the leaves, it can be even less good for the dog. Many plants can cause serious skin irritation, diarrhea or vomiting in dogs through direct contact and a few are deadly if eaten.
Avoid having certain plants in your garden if possible, but you can always spray the plants with an anti-chew product like bitter apple. If your dog likes to dig in the dirt you can also sprinkle cayenne pepper or black pepper on the soil to dissuade them.
Rhododendron, azalea, amarylis, mistletoe, monkshood, rue, laburnum, yew, foxgloves, lupins and rhubarb leaves are the most common toxic plants and should be removed immediately. Ivy and holly berries are also poisonous to dogs.
If you are buying cut flowers, check with the florist. Monkshood and rue are common components of bouquets and should never be brought into the home – they are deadly attractive to dogs.
Garden chemicals: Today, many garden sheds are brimming with the latest in a wide variety of chemicals including weedkillers, lawn care chemicals, fungicide, insecticides, rodenticides and slug killers, these are prime candidates for dog posioning. Dogs attracted to these substances can be poisoned if they eat them, lick contaminated paws or fur, or even by absorbing poison through their skin.
Manufacturers of garden products in E.U countries are legally obliged to include a contents and instructions sheet with each item, so all purchases can be checked for ‘pet friendliness’. This in not the case with the USA and you need to be especially vigilant about the the toxicity of chemicals used in your garden.
- Disulfoton:Dogs have a potentially fatal attraction to this extremely toxic insecticide, which is the chemical treatment against aphids and other plant-sucking insects. Some of the trade names for the insecticide are Disultex, Di-Syston, Dimaz and Solvirex. Disulfoton is also used as a fertilizer; rose-plant treatments generally contain it. Dogs can in-gest enough while digging in the earth around treated plants to be poisoned. A single teaspoon of a pesticide that contains one percent disulfoton can reportedly kill a fifty pound dog.
The first signs of dog poisoning often manifest as a sudden onset of symptoms, usually( but not always) involving gastric problems such as vomiting and/or severe diarrhoea. This is likely to be a dramatic experience. If poisoning is suspected, veterinary advice should be sought IMMEDIATELY. If you think your dog has been poisoned. Don’t panic, help yourself by following this simple do and don’t action plan.
Common Symptoms Of Dog Poisoning.
- Unexplained vomiting
- Unusual drooling
- Unusual behaviour
- Difficulty breathing
- Convulsions or unconciousness
- Burns around or inside the mouth
- Showing Signs of pain
What To Do If you Think Your Dog Has Been Poisoned
If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, always seek veterinary advice immediately.
- Telephone your vet or an emergency veterinary facility (In the USA call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center Phone Number: (888) 426-4435 A consultation fee may apply.) and be ready to to describe your dog’s symptoms. If the pet has swallowed drugs, you will be asked to give the name of the medication, size of the pill, how many they might of taken and when it happened.
- Wait until your vet gives you instructions on what to do next. Do not take any action on your own
- Collect a sample of whatever the dog has consumed. If a sample cannot be found always take the bottle along for the the vet to identify
- Have a bottle of hydrogen peroxide available at home, but never administer it without a medical directive
- Be prepared to accept that your dog may be admitted to the practice for intensive treatment, including drips or a stomach wash out.
What Not To Do
- Don’t Panic! symptoms of poisoning can be dramatic, but staying calm and in control will help you and your dog.
- Don’t put a sick dog through a car journey before phoning the vet . It could be a traumatic and unnecessary trip.
- Don’t administer any first aid without first seeking veterinary advice.
- Don’t make the dog sick, unless advised by the vet, as it can seriously scar the pets throat canal.
- Dont ignore the symptoms. Poisons can kill if veterinary advice and attention is not sought in time.
So, whether it’s a case of your dog lapping bleach out of the toilet, old lead-ridden paint from the pot, sampling slug pellets from the garden or accepting an unwise treat from you, the rules are simple: Be aware of the dangers and keep temptation out of reach.
Dogs rely on their owners to do the right thing and to look our for their welfare. Just as you would do for a child. Knowing what is poisonous and removing temptation has to the golden rule for everyone.
Any Questions ?
We welcome your comments. But be advised The Happy Dog Guide is not qualified to offer medical advice -Please consult a qualified veterinarian if you have any questions about your dog’s health.