Poisons—Cats And Dogs

by Rebecca on January 14, 2008

in Animal Health

Article By David The Dogman


Our pets are marvellous beings. We provide food, attention, training,
medical care and love. In exchange, they offer companionship, protection,
enjoyment and their own love for us.  For all that they have to offer,
though, they must rely on us for protection from harm. We need to look at
our homes through the eyes of our pets, seeking out “toys” and
“entertainments” that may be harmful for them.

Dogs and cats of all ages, and especially kittens and puppies, explore with
their mouths. Dogs like to mouth and chew things. Cats may start to taste
something and be unable to spit it out because of their rough tongues. Both
may simply “dive in” when they see us doing something new or unfamiliar.
These behaviours often land them in trouble. But we can do a lot to improve
the odds.

Our homes can contain a wide variety of potentially harmful compounds. The
following is not a complete list, but indicates some of the most common

Foods to Avoid
– Onions, onion powder
– Chocolate (baker’s, semi-sweet, milk, dark)
– Alcoholic beverages
– Yeast dough
– Coffee (grounds, beans, chocolate covered espresso beans)
– Tea (caffeine)
– Salt
– Macadamia nuts
– Hops (used in home beer brewing)
– Tomato leaves and stems (green parts)
– Potato leaves and stems (green parts)
– Rhubarb leaves
– Avocados (toxic to birds, mice, rabbits, horses, cattle, and dairy goats)
– Mouldy foods

Because they are so much smaller than we are, our companion animals need to
be kept away from all medications. Cats, in particular, have a body
chemistry quite different from ours in several important ways. Do not give
any of your medications to a pet. That includes over-the-counter medications
such as aspirin, ibuprofen, cough or cold medicines and decongestants. Do
not give your dog’s medicine to your cat or ferret.

Be careful where you take your own medications. Make sure a pill does not
drop within reach of a playful paw or quick, slurping tongue. Do not put
your medications out on a table or counter to take later. They may not be
there when later arrives.

Store medications for all family members and pets in high cabinets, out of
reach. With their curiosity and strong teeth, dogs can crack open a pill
bottle and swallow the entire contents in a very short time. Even if a
medicine prescribed for your pet, too large a dose could cause problems.

Medications that come in tubes may also pose a large risk. Most pets have
sharp teeth and can chew into a tube within seconds. Creams and ointments
that may be quite safe when applied to the skin can cause serious problems
when eaten.

Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, anti-depressants, vitamins
and diet pills are all examples of human medications that can be lethal to
animals, even in small doses.

Some house plants can be quite harmful if ingested by an animal. The
ingestion of azalea, oleander, castor bean, sago palm, Easter lily or yew
plant material by an animal can be fatal. Chewing on some plants may result
in severe irritation to the mouth and throat. Others, while not quite so
deadly, may cause a severe intestinal upset. You should know the names of
all your plants, and keep any potentially toxic plants out of areas
accessible to your animal companions. A good visual reference guide can be
found at the University of Illinois Toxicology homepage.

Flea Control Products and Other Insecticides
For many pets, fleas are a problem that make life miserable. When you treat
a house to kill fleas or other insects, read the product label and follow
all directions carefully. This is particularly important if a flea control
product is to be applied directly to the pet. Before buying a flea product,
consult your veterinarian, especially when treating sick, debilitated or
pregnant pets. If you put out ant or roach baits, make sure they are in a
spot inaccessible to your pet. Keep track of the baits and remove and
dispose of them properly when they are no longer needed. Record on a
calendar the date the bait was put out and the name of the bait used. This
will be needed if your dog eats an entire bait container or if there was no
label on the container and you need to tell the Centre veterinarian what
your pet ingested.

Mouse and Rat Poisons
If you put out mouse or rat baits, make sure they are in a spot that your
pet cannot reach. reach. Keep track of the baits and remove and dispose of
them when they are no longer needed. Record on a calendar the date the bait
was put out and the name of the bait used. This will be needed if your dog
eats an entire bait container or if there was no label on the container and
you need to tell the Center veterinarian what your pet ingested.

Household Chemicals
Many household chemicals can be harmful if consumed by a companion animal.
Most cleansing materials can cause stomach upset and vomiting if they are
eaten. Dishwasher detergent can produce burns in the mouth. When using
household chemicals, special care should be taken to make sure your pets
cannot get into them. This may mean keeping your pet out of the room where
you are using such materials. Common household items that can be lethal to
an animal are mothballs, potpourri oils, coffee grounds, homemade play
dough, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, batteries, cigarettes,
and alcoholic drinks.

Outdoor Plants
Outdoor plants can also be quite hazardous to your pets. Many plants, such
as oleander, azalea, rhododendrons and Japanese yew, can affect the heart
rhythm, possibly even causing it to stop. Some plants can cause considerable
stomach upset with vomiting or diarrhea. Others can produce mental
disturbances or confusion.

Gardening and Lawn Care Supplies
Please do not use garden or lawn care chemicals in the presence of your pet.
For your own and your animal’s safety, read and follow label directions
carefully. Your pets should be kept off of a lawn treated with an
insecticide or a weed killer at least until the lawn is completely dry. Your
pet must be kept out of an area where snail or slug bait has been applied.
Always store such products in areas that are inaccessible to your companion
animals. Contact the manufacturer for information concerning product usage
around your pets.

Automobile Care Supplies
Like indoor cleaners, car-cleaning compounds can cause stomach upset and
vomiting. Some car-cleaning agents are stronger than those used indoors.
Car-cleaning products should be kept away from your pet, who will be safer
if he or she is not allowed to “help” you clean your automobile.

Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid can be harmful to your pet. Your pet
should not be allowed to drink water from a car radiator. As little as one
teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat; less than one tablespoon can
be deadly to a 10-pound dog. Safer antifreeze products are now available and
should be used.

Miscellaneous Chemicals
While performing construction, remodelling or repair work, keep pets out of
the area until all equipment and materials have been put away. Keep pets
away from fresh paint, varnish, or stains until these finishes have dried
completely. If a pet comes in contact with paint or other finishes, DO NOT
use paint thinners or paint removers to clean the animal. Contact your local
veterinarian for removal instructions.

Article By David The Dogman


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