National Poison Prevention Week is taking place March 16 through March 24 this year, but poison prevention in pets (and humans) should be a year-round effort. There are many scary dog poison threats of which diligent pet parents should be aware.
We all know the old (and true) warning to keep chocolate away from dogs, but we are a more informed society with an Internet chock full of pet parent information.
Keep an eye on where you store household and everyday products and when in doubt, double check before administering anything to a dog. With spring just a few days away, now is a good time to do a clean sweep of your abode and make sure the items you think are helping Fido could actually be harming him. Here are 8 scary dog poison threats. How many do you know about?
Not just the liquor store variety, but alcohol from mouthwash and other alcohol-containing liquids can shut down a dog’s body systems if too much is ingested. Perfumes and common cooking extracts like vanilla may contain as much as 35 percent alcohol by volume, so keep anything containing alcohol away from a dog’s reach, jump or nose. Effects of alcohol on a dog can be fatal, as a dog’s stomach can absorb alcohol completely within 20 to 30 minutes.
Keep open bottles of beer and alcohol in general away from a dog’s lapping tongue to prevent emergencies and eventual death.
Many human bug repellants contain DEET, a toxin that can be harmful to dogs, so anything containing DEET should not be used on dogs. Fleas are one problem, of course, but so are black flies, mosquitos, and other insects and pests that are a nuisance to dogs. I’ve opted for more natural alternatives, but even the word “natural” does not always mean safe, so proceed with caution and be an informed pet parent when using any substance, liquid, towelette, or powder on dogs. With flea and tick season right around the corner, proceed with caution.
Neem is a non-toxic insecticide. Wanting a more natural option instead of applying harsh chemicals to Dexter during dastardly flea and tick season, I found this next product to be a ray of light. I sprinkle this safe alternative to package chemicals on Dexter before trekking to the park, on walks or into woodsy areas. It is called food grade diatomaceous earth. These fossilized remains of microscopic shells act as shards of glass to winged critters. I purchased a salt shaker from a local retailer and sprinkle this onto my hand and into his coat. After using it for well over two years, I’ve yet to see one critter on my dog. Bonus: Word has it that this is a good bedbug deterrent, so I like traveling with it, too. (But be sure to get the food grade.) Do not inhale nor put near your dog’s head or face, as it is not to be inhaled. I use a pet-safe moist towelette containing effective anti-flea and tick treatment on the head and ears instead. Never apply anything near the mouth or eyes/mucous membranes.
A penny for your thoughts, unless a dog ingests one, and then there’s an emergency situation at hand. Sadly, a dog in Colorado died last year after ingesting a penny. Pennies minted after 1982 contain the toxic substance, zinc, which dogs and cats cannot ingest. Apparently, gastric acids from a pet’s stomach can reach the center of a zinc penny quite rapidly, so absorption into the bloodstream becomes an urgent matter. Keep your spare change, wallet, or purse away from a dog’s reach, and if a penny is ingested, seek emergency help immediately.
Speaking of purses, a Cocker Spaniel mom friend of mine recently had an issue with her dog and a near fatal Xylitol scare. While she was out, her dog, Boomer, got into her unopened grocery bags and ingested a 40 pieces of Ice Breakers Ice Cube gum. Boomer had vomited and began drinking massive amounts of water. He kept begging his dog mom for water and kicking his bowls around. Something made the worried Angela Kussman Google “My dog ate Ice Breakers gum.” What she read shook her to the core and caused her to rush Boomer to the emergency vet.
Xylitol is one of the ingredients in Ice Breakers (and other sugar-free) products. The vet explained to Kussman that even a small amount can be lethal, and having ingested 40 pieces, the prognosis was very serious. With intensive treatment and monitoring, Boomer recovered, and Kussman is more informed as pet parent.
What can you do as a pet parent to prevent Xylitol poisoning in your dog? Read labels carefully. Anything sugar-free should be avoided. Check if Xylitol is contained in any products you purchase. Keep them from your dog’s path. Companies are not warning pet parents, for the most part, that Xylitol can be fatal to dogs. If you must purchase items containing Xylitol, hide them far from a dog’s reach. In our household, we rarely, if ever, purchase Xylitol-containing items.
According to our friends at petMD, “Composts contain decomposing and decaying matter, which can contain ‘tremorgenic mycotoxins.’ When ingested by dogs, they can result in vomiting, agitation, panting, and severe tremors and seizures.” With spring gardens right around the corner, please keep this in mind and keep dogs away from compost.
A Thawed Ground
With winter snows melting in many parts of the country, left behind on Mother Nature’s bed of earth are items and objects unsafe to dogs. Proceed with caution when walking on grass/surfaces that havent’ seen the light of day without being snow covered in ages. I hope I never have to use this, but I’m glad I have it with me. This single-use mesh pouch stops bleeding. Should an emergency occur, remove the PetClot from the package, apply pressure to the wound, and the bleeding stops. I’ve actually been on a walk with my dog, Dexter, at the park where we gave this product to someone whose dog was bleeding profusely from the paw, having just stepped on something. She used it, stopped the bleeding, and headed to the vet.
Most pet parents know about the dangers of antifreeze and that dogs (and cats), in general, find it appealing due to its sweetness. Clean up any pooling liquid and keep dogs from any standing liquid they may discover on walks. I recently saw a guy near the park where I walk Dexter putting antifreeze into his car radiator. Simple enough, but he then emptied the small amount left to the side of the car onto the ground. I politely asked this gentleman not to do that, and I explained the dangers of doing so to pets. He actually thanked me and said he learned something.
Expired Food and/or Dog Treats
Dog food and dog treats have expiration dates. Check dog food expiration dates and treat expiration dates. If you have no idea how long those dog treats have been in the cupboard, toss them out. Dogs can get sick or worse with treats gone bad. You wouldn’t drink old milk right? Dogs are the same way – bad treats are bad treats. If you can’t remember when you purchased that bag of treats, better to be safe than sorry: Chuck ‘em.
Take a check of your house and surroundings and be sure to pooch-proof it from prying paws and noses. Better to be safe than sorry and keep your dog healthy all year round!
Did we miss any off-the-beaten path items to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below. The more pet parents we can help, the better.