Know what Poisons lurk in your home and yard

2nd August 2016

Dog eating a plant

Keeping our pets safe is a priority. 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.

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, avocados, onions, garlic, raisins/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 fertilisers, 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 their feet clean as soon as you get home to avoid the possibility of them licking their 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 bait 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. Common household cleaners such as toilet bowl cleaners, lye, drain cleaners, and rust removers pose the highest risk. Remember that a natural cleaner, may still not be safe for your dog. Silica gel packets, commonly found in new purchases of shoes or purses, if ingested could cause iron poisoning. Make sure to dispose of the packets carefully where your dog can't get to them.

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.

Symptoms of poisoning (toxicity) in your pet can include:

  • Vomiting/upset stomach
  • Labored OR shallow breathing
  • Drooling
  • Increased OR decreased heart rate
  • Fever
  • 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 item you think your dog may have eaten. This will help the veterinarian to know how best to treat your pet.

Consult with your veterinarian for a detailed list of all potentially poisonous items and substances found around your home. 

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