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Poison — What Can Poison Our Pets

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Removing those things from our pet's diet which can poison them is important.

Let's review some of the items that are toxic and poisonous to our pets. It goes without saying that if you suspect your pet has been poisoned, take your pet immediately to the vet!

Anti–freeze:

It's widespread knowledge that items such as anti–freeze are extremely poisonous to our pets. Many dogs will lick anti–freeze that has leaked onto the pavement because anti–freeze has a sweet taste to it. Dogs enjoy anything that is sweet. Not realizing the anti–freeze is poisonous and toxic, the dogs lick the anti–freeze. But it's not only dogs that can suffer from anti–freeze poisoning, so can cats and for that matter, so can humans.

The component of anti–freeze that is toxic and poisonous is ethylene glycol. The sister of ethylene glycol is propylene glycol and this ingredient has been used in the past in pet foods in the past. It may still be used too, but I am not sure as I haven't checked the label of pet foods in years. Nonetheless, I have seen propylene glycol on ingredient labels for some very common salad dressings. It's also used in many skin care products including shampoo — I've even seen propylene glycol used in some natural skin care products by a company that claims to be concerned about the earth, environment and humans.

But back to ethylene glycol and anti–freeze, a pet that has ingested ethylene glycol may appear drunk at first, there may be vomiting, the pet may drink and urinate a lot, there may be diarrhea, rapid breathing and even seizures.

Some pets may appear to be doing okay soon after ingesting ethylene glycol, but just as you think things are getting better, things rapidly get worse.

It's possible for your pet to recover from ethylene glycol poisoning, but of course, there may be liver and kidney damage. The sooner you get your pet to the vet, the better.

Anti–freeze poisoning is just not limited to those living in colder climates. The fact is that most radiators in cars have some ethylene glycol in them. Therefore, if you notice that your radiator is leaking, get it fixed immediately and ensure there is no anti–freeze on the ground that your pets, or other pets can lick.

Ethylene glycol is the component of the anti–freeze that causes the poisoning and unfortunately, this chemical is not limited to ethylene glycol. Other sources of ethylene glycol include brake fluid, liquid rust inhibitors and many other items. When in doubt, read a label or do some research on a product before using it.

If you suspect your pet has been poisoned by ethylene glycol, then get your pet to the vet immediately. There is no time to loose because you need to treat this poisoning before extensive kidney damage has occurred.

Avocado:

Low in sugar and with no starch, avocados contain quite a bit of fruit oil. Avocados are said to help regulate body functions and stimulate growth. I've heard of a cat that just loves its avocado and this is probably because of its high fat content. Dogs love avocados too!

The problem is that it is being reported the avocados are in fact poisonous to our pets. The toxic substance in avocados is reported to be persin, a fatty acid derivative. Avocados are reported to be poisonous to dogs, cats and other animals especially birds.

While one can debate whether or not avocados are poisonous or not, I would suggest that you do not feed avocados and if you have a pet, other than a dog, cat or bird, then consult with your vet before feeding an avocado to make sure it won't harm your pet.

Chocolate:

It's been well reported for a long time now that chocolate is poisonous to dogs. Some people laugh at this saying I've fed my dog chocolate for years and it's okay. The fact is, every pet will respond differently and you should not take the chance. Giving your dog the smallest amount of chocolate could be enough to kill it.

Those dogs that do eat chocolate, although they may still be alive, are certainly not healthier for eating chocolate and soon enough, the effects of the chocolate will catch up and ultimately harm the dog.

If your dog is addicted to chocolate, then you will need the professional help of your veterinarian to wean your dog off the chocolate.

If your dog has eaten chocolate, then immediately take your dog to the vet for immediate medical help.

Let's face it, our dogs are sneaky at times. I'm sure it's happened to all of us when we have put some food down on a table and without realizing it, the food has all of a sudden disappeared. As we turn around, we see our dog looking at us with an innocently guilty look — who me? what did I do?

It's so easy to let this sort of thing happen and so when it's Christmas time, Thanksgiving, Easter, etc, it's vitally important that we, as guardians of our pets, become ultra aware that having chocolate in a location that our dogs can get to can become their death sentence.

The chemical in chocolate that does the damage is called theobromine. Different types of chocolate contain different amount of theobromine. It takes a certain amount of theobromine to do damage and this is why some pets eat chocolate and appear to fine. The amount in that source of chocolate may not be high enough to do immediate damage. But how are you to know how much theobromine is in the chocolate? It's impossible for you to know. So don't take the chance and make sure your children and all those that visit your home are aware that they should never feed your dog chocolate. Many will do just this thinking it's a nice treat but it's because they do not know better and therefore, educate your children and guests that they should not, under any circumstance, feed your dogs chocolate.

Chocolate can kill your dog, do not take any chances.

Pets In Cars:

While leaving a pet in a car won't poison your pet, I am adding this information to this page because it is one of my pet peeves to see people leaving their pets, especially dogs, in cars when they go shopping, etc.

What's wrong with this? Well, nothing during the winter in most situations, but the fact is that during the summer, the car becomes quite hot. People think or believe that rolling down the window slightly is sufficient ventilation for their pet.

But the truth is that dogs control their body temperature through panting. Dogs cannot sweat to control their body temperature. They only pant.

When the air they are breathing is hot and not properly ventilated, then they cannot sufficiently cool their body in the heat through panting. While in many situations a dog does not die, the heat can cause brain damage, even in a small amount. In some situations, firemen have actually had to smash the window of a car to save a dog's life!

I therefore urge people to leave their pets at home when there is even the slightest bit of heat. Why take the chance? Brain damage is not a problem you can see and so you do not know when you are potentially damaging your pet's brain.

We must remember that cars become like a greenhouse. The windows allow the heat of the sun in, but do not let it out.

Raisins:

Raisins are potentially damaging to the kidneys in our pets. In some pets, raisins and/or grapes have been reported to kill the pet.

Xylitol:

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Animal Poison Control Center is warning veterinarians, their staff, and pet owners that the xylitol—a sweetener found in some sugar–free chewing gums, candies, and other products can cause serious—possibly life–threatening problems for dogs.

Dogs ingesting large amounts of products sweetened with xylitol may have a sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting depression, loss of coordination, and seizures, according to Dr. Eric K. Dunayer, a consulting veterinarian in clinical toxicology for the poison control center. The center is most concerned about products in which xylitol is the primary ingredient.

These signs can develop quite rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion of the product, Dr. Dunayer said in a statement, therefore, it is important that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately.

Some data suggest a link between xylitol ingestion and liver failure in dogs, he said, though those data are insufficient to draw firm conclusions.

Dr. Dunayer published a case study on xylitol toxicosis in the April 2004 issue of the journal Veterinary and Human Toxicology.

  • Source: Sweetener xylitol can be toxic to dogs — AVMA, September 1, 2004

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