Could you have a toxin in your home and not even know it?
It can be a terrifying experience when your dog has decided to eat something poisonous, but also a fairly common one for dog owners – in fact, there are over 10,000 cases of pet poisoning every year in the U.S, and the substances that are usually responsible for making our canine companions so sick are usually common household items that seem completely harmless to us.
In fact, many of these poisons include food or pharmaceuticals that we, as humans, use every single day.
It can be difficult for owners to tell just how a poison may affect their pet – every dog reacts differently to toxin ingestion, depending on the substance they ate or inhaled and how much of the poison actually entered their body.
Symptoms of poisoning in our furry canine friends can range from digestive symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea, to neurological problems, tremors, heart abnormalities, breathing difficulties, coma, and even death.
Here’s a guide to the most common poisons ingested by dogs, and their effects.
Products that kill the tiniest types of pests can also be highly dangerous for our pups in some cases. Over the counter flea and tick products can be potentially poisonous for your dog if they accidentally eat them, or if they’re given the wrong dosage.
Insecticides applied to lawns or around the house can be highly toxic for your pets as well.
Human Prescription Medications
Some of the most beneficial drugs for people can have devastating health effects on the furry members of our families if they ingest them, and even small doses of some medications can be quite dangerous for our dogs.
Some of the most commonly ingested and potentially dangerous medications that can poison our pups are:
Anti-inflammatories and pain medications: These can cause gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney damage
Antidepressants: Can cause vomiting, diarrhea, depression, or serotonin syndrome (a condition that can cause changes in body temperature, increase heart rate, and produce seizures)
Amphetamines (like Adderall): Can cause tremors, fever, seizures, and heart abnormalities
Medications that we tend to take for granted are also ones that people commonly leave around the house, which can allow easy access for our canine companions.
Products like acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen and naproxen (Advil, Alleve), and supplements like multivitamins or fish oils can seem like appealing (yet highly dangerous) items for our dogs to eat.
Veterinary prescription drugs can be part of the pet poisoning problem too, especially as many of them are produced in tasty flavorings or formats to make medicating our dogs easier.
Our dogs don’t understand the concept of ‘just one!’ The most common problem medications tend to be pain medications and anti-parasitic medication, like chewable heart worm pills.
From toilet bowl cleaners to essential oils, oven scrubbers to pool chemicals, everyday items in our houses are leading reasons for pet poisoning.
Since these substances are all so different, they can cause symptoms for our four-legged family members that can span a wide range as well – vomiting, diarrhea, depression, chemical burns, kidney failure, collapse, coma or death.
Although this tends to be more of a hazard in the wintertime, containers of vehicle fluids (like antifreeze, for example) can be very appealing for pets who are tempted to take a taste.
Antifreeze actually has a sweet taste to many of our furry friends – unfortunately, even a small amount can be deadly, causing kidney damage or kidney failure, and possibly death within a short period of time.
Those big brown eyes are staring at you, and you might be extremely tempted to just slip your dog the last bit of your dinner under the table – what’s the harm, right?
Well, actually, besides the fact that you’re likely to make your dog fat, giving them certain human foods can be dangerous for their health, and even deadly in some cases. Here’s a list of human foods you should avoid giving to your pleasing pup – no matter what.
Your canine companion may look so cute as he sits there begging for a bite of your chocolate cake or a chip covered in guacamole, but not giving him what he wants could save his life. Animals have different metabolisms than people.
Some foods, such as onions and garlic, as well as beverages that are perfectly safe for people can be dangerous, and sometimes fatal, for dogs.
Onions and garlic – Can cause blood cell and platelet disorders
Chocolate, coffee and caffeine – Causes stomach upset, hyperactivity, seizures, and even death. Dark chocolate is more dangerous – only a few ounces can be fatal to smaller dogs
Alcohol – Can cause vomiting, breathing issues, coma and death.
Avocado – This one surprises a lot of people, but avocados have persin in them, a substance toxic to our pooches.
Macadamia nuts – These tasty tree nuts can cause weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and increased body temperature
Grapes and raisins – For unknown reasons, raisins and grapes, even in small amounts, can potentially cause severe kidney damage or failure, even death
Xylitol – This common artificial sweetener is found in so many different things, including sugar free gum, candy and toothpaste.
It can cause a fast and dangerous drop in a dog’s blood sugar, causing weakness, seizures, and sometimes liver failure.
Lawn and garden products
A perfect green lawn has the potential to be perilous for your pup – products like fertilizer, weed control chemicals, cocoa bean much and compost can be highly dangerous substances for your dog to get into.
These can cause digestive upset, tremors, heart abnormalities, and even death.
As pretty as those flowers may be, they may be a hidden hazard for your four-legged friend. While some only cause mild symptoms, other lovely leafy specimens are deadly for dogs.
Some of the most toxic plants for our pups to ingest are:
Azaleas and rhododendrons – Can cause vomiting, diarrhea, coma
Tulips and daffodils – Bulbs can cause digestive upset, seizures, and abnormal heart rate in dogs
Sago palms – Even eating just the seeds can cause your dog to vomit, have seizures, or even experience liver failure
Yew – This delightful looking, decorative shrub can cause some very serious side effects, like tremors, lack of co-ordination, breathing problems, and in severe cases, heart failure and death
No one wants pests like rats and mice around, but leaving rodent poison around for your dog to find can have a whole other set of unpleasant consequences; dogs have also ingested these poisons when they’ve been around barns, garages, or even park and wildlife areas too, however.
The symptoms depend on the type of poison – some can cause more serious problems than others – and they may not even appear until days after your pup has eaten the toxic substance.
Common symptoms of ingestion can include vomiting, weakness, and nosebleeds or bloody urine (this is because some types of rodenticides will cause internal bleeding).
My Dog Has Eaten Something Bad, Now What?
So what should you do if you think that your dog may have eaten something poisonous? First of all, stay calm – your dog is relying on you to help them, and getting upset will only make your pup panic.
Pick up any of the substance that’s left, or the bottle it came in, in order to show your veterinarian exactly what your furry friend has eaten.
Quickly check your dog over and write down the symptoms they’re showing, when they ate the substance, and how much of it they ingested – these will all be helpful details when it comes to providing accurate treatment later.
Then, call your veterinarian immediately, or the ASPCA Poison Control Hotline – they’ll be able to recommend the best course of action to start helping your pup.
House-Proofing for Poison Prevention
Ultimately, the most effective way to prevent your favorite furry friend from getting into trouble from toxic substances is to keep them safely out of reach – a no brainer, right? Here are some concrete ways to keep your pup’s paws off harmful household products.
‘Child proof’ means nothing to a dog that can easily open bottles with sharp teeth and strong jaws. Lock all medication in pet-proof cabinets or cupboard, and supervise children and seniors while they take medications so that they don’t accidentally drop it, giving your pup the perfect opportunity to snatch it.
Follow the exact guidelines on any medication for your pet – whether it’s prescribed pills or over-the-counter flea treatment.
Never hesitate to ask your vet about whether a product is safe or not!
Keep a list of potentially toxic foods on your fridge, and if your dog happens to be a counter surfer or table-side moocher, keep them crated or in another room if you’re preparing or serving food that could be dangerous for them.
Cleaning supplies, soaps, vehicle maintenance fluids and rodent poisons are best kept under lock and key as well, in an area of the house or the garage that your dog has absolutely no access to. ‘Better safe than sorry’ is an appropriate phrase in this situation!
If you prefer a little greenery around your house, choose plants that are going to be non-toxic for your pup in case they decide to have a little nibble.
Although accidents do sometimes happen despite our best efforts, for most situations, using a bit of common sense when it comes to keeping your dog safe and keeping toxic items secure and out of reach can keep you from having to make that frantic call to poison control when your dog eats something dangerous!