Chocolate- most people know that this is harmful to your pet. Did you know that the toxicity is related to the type of chocolate? For those of us who love our chocolate, generally the darker the chocolate, the more toxic. If you happen to like white chocolate and your dog steals it, he will not have as much trouble as when he steals the bakers chocolate you were going to use to make brownies. Also, chocolate can stay on the stomach for longer than you might think (up to 12 hours). The common signs are associated with stimulation of the nervous and cardiovascular systems from the theobromine and caffeine in the chocolate. Treatment is associated with replacing the fluid deficit from the vomit and diarrhea and removing the toxin in the urine. Secondary pancreatitis can develop from the high-fat content in some candies.
Ant/roach hotels are made with fipronil (the active ingredient in Frontline by Merial) and boric acid, both of which are not overly toxic. However, if your animal eats the plastic itself, this can cause a foreign body. Since many of these have peanut butter or fat in them to attract the bugs, they also seem tasty to your dog. If your dog eats the plastic, you should call your veterinarian.
Grapes and raisins are also potentially dangerous. These contain an unknown toxin that causes kidney failure in dogs. No one knows if this is an individual sensitivity or not, so it is recommended not to feed these to your dog. The signs are associated with the damage to the kidneys and include vomit and diarrhea that often progresses as the disease becomes more severe.
Although the sugar alcohol xylitol is not harmful to people, it is dangerous for dogs. This is a common ingredient in sugar-free gum, candies and also comes from at home baking. In dogs, it causes a release of insulin which produces a low blood sugar level. The onset of signs will vary with the form of the xylitol that is ingested. Just remember, that it might be fun to try to get your dog to chew gum and blow bubbles, but it can be hazardous to his health.
Many plants are toxic. Plants in the lily family are extremely toxic to cats. All parts of the plant are toxic, so brushing against the plant and ingesting pollen from grooming it off the fur can cause disease. Lilies will cause kidney failure. If treatment is started with eighteen hours of exposure, the outcome is usually more positive. Animals can become sick within two to six hours after exposure.
Pyrethrins are common ingredients in many flea shampoos and dips. Generally, they are a lower toxicity to dogs than cats, but reactions are based on the amount of poison to which the animal has been exposed. The higher the concentration, the worse the signs. In dogs, it is generally recommended to bathe with Dawn dish soap to remove the toxin. Dawn dish soap will remove the oils in the skin, this is where the product goes upon application, so it will remove the product. I do NOT recommend using Dawn dish soap for any other purpose because removing the oils in the skin will dry out the skin. If there is severe skin itching, we may need to use antihistamines or steroids to give the dog some relief. Most of the time, cat exposure comes from accidentally applying the dog product to the cat or from the cat grooming the product of a dog that recently had the product applied. Cats get muscle tremors and seizures, which can be severe depending on the amount and type of product applied. Please always read the labels and do not apply a product that is not labeled for cats to your cat.
There are many human medications that are dangerous to animals also. We will discuss these in our next article. See you then.
In case anyone is curious…the pet poison control has an app for your phone. Check your App Store.