Dawn Armstrong
Special to the Tribune

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March 25, 2013
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Pet column: Poison prevention for pets and their people

The month of March is designated for several awareness topics, but perhaps the most critical issue is poison prevention for both people and pets. Spring planting, vehicle maintenance and the Easter holiday pose special dangers. Each year, an increasing number of cats die from chewing Easter lilies and a variety of pets suffer from ingesting Easter basket artificial grass and chocolate. Now is a good time to take inventory of potential toxins and take measures to safeguard the entire family.

Poisons can be eaten, absorbed through the skin or inhaled. Some poisons act immediately, some take days to show symptoms. Complete plant and food toxic lists are available on the internet for a variety of animal species. Here are pet poison sources routinely called in for emergency help:

1. Antifreeze is a sweet smelling and tasting liquid that dogs, cats and even children like to drink. Once ingested, most patients do not survive. As little as a teaspoon spilled on the garage floor can kill a dog or cat. Check for puddles and add to your spring cleaning list.

2. Human medications cause 50 percent of all pet poisonings. Just one Tylenol pill can kill a cat. Ibuprofen causes liver problems and stomach ulcers, as does aspirin. Antidepressants are involved in the highest number of emergency calls.

3. Human foods such as raisins, grapes, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic, unbaked yeast bread dough, fatty foods and chocolate are toxic to various degrees. Raw or undercooked meat, eggs and bones can contain bacteria such as salmonella and e. coli. Milk and milk-based products cause diarrhea or other digestive upset. Salt in large amounts leads to sodium ion poisoning. Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark contain Persin, which causes vomiting and diarrhea.

4. Xylitol is an ingredient in sugarless gums, candy, drinks, toothpaste, nasal spray, and Metamucil. Ingested in large amounts can cause liver failure.

5. Alcoholic beverages and food products with alcohol ingredients, as well as hand sanitizers, cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and death.

6. Garbage and compost contain harmful bacteria, food, nicotine, and other attractive toxins. Inside and outside, containers must be secured.

7. Cleaning products such as bathroom cleansers and chemical toilet treatments. oven cleaners, lime-removal products, and laundry detergents all pose threats.

8. Pest, weed killers, and other garden products are toxic. Rat and mouse poison can transfer to pets as can grub or snail killers and other insecticides. Fertilizers with bone meal, blood meal, and iron-based products are toxic. Be aware if neighbors are using toxic products.

9. Wrong application of treatments such as flea and tick products meant for dogs but used on cats causes tremors and seizures. Cats eat the toxins when they groom their coats. Check all medications for proper dosage and correct species before use.

10. Spray aerosols, liquid or dry potpourri, and fragrance plug-in products harm birds in particular because they are by nature sensitive to airborne elements.

11. Glue, such as Gorilla Glue, expands when ingested and requires surgical removal. One ounce of glue may grow to the size of a basketball.

12. Batteries and battery-containing devices such as remote controls and cell phones cause serious chemical burns when chewed or swallowed.

Other hazards arise when pets are outdoors and exposed to bee or wasp stings, fire ant bites that cause allergic reactions and highly toxic spider and snake bites. Mushrooms and contaminated water are toxic. When outdoors, keep pets in sight. As soon as you think a pet may have ingested something harmful, take immediate action. Contact a veterinarian or one of the pet poison hotlines. Do not attempt to treat without veterinary direction. There are mobile apps for pet safety tips and information.

Provided by the Lake Tahoe Humane Society and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to help “Keep Tahoe Kind”. Dawn Armstrong is the executive director.


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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Mar 26, 2013 09:27PM Published Mar 25, 2013 08:56PM Copyright 2013 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.