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Keeping Your Pet Safe:
You may reach us at (952) 953-4100 during business hours. For after-hour emergencies, please call South Metro Animal Emergency Care at: 952-953-3737.
AS the leading animal poison control center in North America, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center is available for consultation 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. They may be reached at (888) 426-4435. Please be aware that a consultation fee will be charged to you for this service. The ASPCA is a non-profit organization and the consultation fees help support the Poison Control Center.
For an excellent reference pertaining to hazards for pets, please visit the ASPCA's Poison Control website.
Below are some commonly encountered pet hazards:
Amaryllis: Amaryllis are common ornamental bulb plants. All parts of the plant are toxic, with the bulb being considered the most dangerous part. Ingestion of foliage may result in drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea. Ingestion of the bulb material can cause hypotension, weakness, ataxia, tremors, and seizures. Treatment is more aggressive for larger quantities or bulb ingestion, but prognosis is generally good.
Anti-depressants: Accidental exposure to human medications is a common cause of anti-depressant exposure in pets. Anti-depressants may cause vomiting, lethargy, or a condition known as serotonin syndrome, which can be fatal Accidental overdose may also occur if two pet medications are combined in an inappropriate manner, so if you move or travel, always be sure to tell your veterinarian what supplements or medications your pet has been prescribed from a previous clinic.
Anti-freeze: Anti-freeze from car engines is sweet and may drip onto garage floors or driveways, where pets can lick the spilled fluid. Signs can be severe and typically result in kidney failure. Early treatment is important and exposure should be treated as an emergency. This exposure can be prevented by keeping pets indoors or cleaning spills immediately.
Chocolate: Small amounts are not likely to cause a problem, but the darkness of the chocolate affects the toxicity level. White chocolate is safe, milk chocolate is mildly toxic in large amounts, dark chocolate can be very dangerous to smaller dogs, and baking chocolate is the most dangerous. Signs can vary from vomiting and hyperactivity with a mild exposure to seizures and death with large amounts of dark/baking chocolate. If you suspect an exposure, try to quantify how much and what type of chocolate was eaten and call for treatment advice.
Christmas Trees: The most common species include Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea), Blue Spruce (Picea pungens), White Spruce (Picea glauca), Scotch Pine (Pinus sylvestris), Red Pie (Pinus resinosa), and Red Spruce (Picea rubens). The most common signs after ingestion of the needles are vomiting, anorexia, abdominal pain, and lethargy.
Christmas Tree Preservatives: Tree preservatives typically contain dextrose (sugar) and NPK gardening fertilizers. Metals (copper, iron, zinc, magnesium) can sometimes be found in small amounts. Most pets are exposed by drinking out of the tree stand, and usually develop no signs Rarely, vomiting or other GI signs develop, or a fungal infections from the wood material may occur.
Ethanol: Cats are more sensitive to the effects of ethanol and other alcohols than dogs. Exposure may occur by drinking alcoholic beverages that contain cream, such as eggnog, or through automotive fluids in a garage or basement. Signs include vomiting, loss of coordination, coma, seizures, and death. Most cases should receive treatment and monitoring.
Grapes/Raisins: Ingestion of grapes or raisins can cause acute kidney failure in some dogs. It has been documented that 1/4 cup of raisins can be fatal to a small dog. Although some dogs do not seem to react, the safest course of action is o bring your pet to the clinic for induced vomiting and additional care.
Holly: All pars of the American Holly (Ilex opaca) plant are considered toxic. Most small exposures result in gastritis and lethargy. Mild treatment with dilution or vomiting is usually sufficient.
Ice Melt: The most common ingredients in ice melt products are sodium chloride (table salt), potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate, and calcium magnesium acetate. A few brands contain urea. Pets are exposed by stepping in the granules and then grooming their feet, or else by ingesting granules tracked inside on shoes. Ingestion can result is electrolyte abnormalities. It is best to use "pet safe" ice melt products, and wash your pet's paws after suspect contact.
Lily: Members of the Lilium or Hemerocallis genera (Easter lilies, tiger lilies, day lilies, Asiatic lilies etc) cause acute renal failure in cats. Even small exposures, such as pollen or chewing on a leaf, have been known to be fatal in cats, so all exposures should be treated as an emergency. The initial signs include vomiting and lethargy, and then a second stage of illness occurs 24-72 hours later, including kidney failure, lack of urine, depression, and death. Early treatment improves chances for survival.
Mistletoe: Most ingestion involve the American Mistletoes (Phoradendron spp). Mistletoe contains toxic lectins, but small exposures usually produce mild gastritis. Large exposures may require more intensive treatment and cardiovascular monitoring. Another concerns is that decorative mistletoe products often have the berries removed and replaced with plastic beads, which may cause and obstruction concern.
NSAIDS: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen, acetaminophone, and aspirin are a common cause of poisoning because owners may attempt to self-medicate their pets with over the counter human pain medications. These medications can be toxic even in small doses, especially for cats. Effects include kidney failure, bleeding stomach ulcers or perforation, anemia, and death. Pet-safe NSAID choices are available by prescription from a veterinarian.
Onions: The allium family (including garlic, leeks, spring onions, shallots, etc.) can cause a severe fatal anemia if eaten in large enough quantities. This includes commercial onion products such as onion soup mix. Signs include pale gums, weakness, and collapse. Exposures are typically treated with induced vomiting for mild exposures.
Poinsettias: The toxicity of poinsettias is generally over-rated. These plants do contain toxic ester compounds, but large quantities must be ingested for signs to develop. Most pets experience mild vomiting that does not require treatment.
Potpourri: Oil or liquid potpourri can be very concentrated. Certain scents are more toxic than others, such as cinnamon oil. Exposure through ingestion may cause severe toxicity, vomiting, and seizures in pets. Direct skin contact with the oils may cause chemical burns or mild irritation. Wash the affected skin area, and seek medical attention for ingestion exposures.
Rodent Poisons: There are several types of rat/mouse poisons, all of which cause signs in cats and dogs. The most common category is anti-coagulant rodenticides, which includes derivatives of warfarin, brodifocoum, and indane 1, 3-dione. They are sold as flavored pellets and block baits, which make them tasty to pets. Anti-coagulants prevent the liver from using Vitamin K to create necessary clotting factors causing the rodent to bleed to death. This is a delayed reaction, which can make it difficult to identify an exposure. If you suspect your pet chew a bait, or you see colored pellets in tge stool, seek immediate veterinary attention. Signs, which may take weeks to develop, include bruising on the belly, gums, or eyes. large hematomas in the joints, a distended abdomen, and death. A transfusion may be necessary in severe cases. Less common poisons that are not anti-coagulants are cholecalciferol, bromethalin, and strychnine. Signs of these other chemicals are more immediate, and include seizures, paralysis, and death. All rodent poison exposure should be treated as an emergency. Keep baits well hidden from pets and children.
Silica: Desiccant packets are included in many prducts to remove moisture from the packaging. Examples include shoe boxes, electronics, medications, and certain foods. Silica packets can produce diarrhea in large amounts, or become an obstruction inside the intestines.
Tobacco: Cigarettes, nicotine gum, and the e-cig cartridges are very toxic to dogs. The e-cig products are more likely to be fatal due because they can be swallowed while and contain concentrated nicotine. Signs include vomiting, hyperactivity, salivation, seizures, and death. Exposure in considered an emergency, and may required decontamination, fluids, and hospitalization.
Xylitol: An artificial sweetener used in sugar-free gum, mints, and baked goods. Please be aware that xylitol has also been added to some brands of "sugar free" peanut butter to replace the cane sugar. Xylitol causes severe hypoglycemia, clotting disorders, and seizures. As a single piece of gum can be fatal for a small dog. If our pet ingests an item containing xylitol, they will need emergency care including; induced vomiting, fluids and other supportive measures.