BEWARE: Dog & Cat Poisons
By Pat McKay
Laurinda Morris wrote about this case that happened in 2004. “This week I had the first case in history of raisin toxicity
ever seen at MedVet. My patient was a 56-pound, 5 yr old male neutered lab mix that ate half a canister of raisins sometime
between 7:30 AM and 4:30 PM on Tuesday. He started with vomiting, diarrhea and shaking about 1AM on Wednesday but the owner
didn't call my emergency service until 7AM.
“I had heard somewhere about raisins and grapes causing acute renal failure but hadn't
seen any formal paper on the subject. We had her bring the dog in immediately. In the meantime, I called the ER service at
MedVet, and the doctor there was like me - had heard something about it, but....
“Anyway, we contacted the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center and they said
to give I V fluids at 1 1/2 times maintenance and watch the kidney values for the next 48-72 hours.
BUN (blood urea nitrogen level) was already at 32 (normal less than 27) and creatinine over 5 ( 1.9 is the high end of normal).
Both are monitors of kidney function in the bloodstream. We placed an IV catheter and started the fluids. Rechecked the renal
values at 5 PM and the BUN was over 40 and creatinine over 7 with no urine production after a liter of fluids. At the point
I felt the dog was in acute renal failure and sent him on to MedVet for a urinary catheter to monitor urine output overnight
as well as overnight care.
“He started vomiting again overnight at MedVet and his renal values have continued
to increase daily. He produced urine when given lasix as a diuretic. He was on 3 different anti-vomiting medications and they
still couldn't control his vomiting. Today his urine output decreased again, his BUN was over 120, his creatinine was at 10,
his phosphorus was very
elevated and his blood pressure, which had been staying around 150, skyrocketed to 220.. He continued
to vomit and the owners elected to euthanize.
“This is a very sad case - great dog, great owners who had no idea raisins could be a toxin. Please alert everyone
you know who has a dog of this very serious risk. Poison control said as few as 7 raisins
or grapes could be toxic.”
GRAPES & RAISINS: Although the toxic substance within grapes and
raisins is unknown, these fruits can cause kidney failure. In animals who already have certain health problems, signs may
be more dramatic.
ONIONS & GARLIC: They
contain disulfides, sulfur compounds that can cause gastrointestinal irritation to animals and harm their red blood cells.
“One year at Passover time, I treated a dog with severe anemia,” recalls Dr. Hohenhaus. “It turned out she’d
eaten too much of Grandma’s chopped liver, which was loaded with onions and garlic.”
AVOCADO: The leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea
in dogs. Birds and rodents are especially sensitive to avocado poisoning, and can develop congestion, difficulty breathing
and fluid accumulation around the heart. Some ingestions may even be fatal.
YEAST DOUGH: Yeast dough can rise and cause gas to accumulate in your animal’s digestive system. This
can be painful and can cause the stomach or intestines to rupture.
MILK: Because dogs and cats do not possess significant amounts of lactase (the enzyme that breaks down
lactose in milk), milk and other milk-based products cause them diarrhea or other digestive upset. The only exceptions are
colostrums, which is food, and butter, which is fat.
CHOCOLATE, COFFEE, CAFFEINE: These products all contain substances called methylxanthines, which are found in cacao
seeds, the fruit of the plant used to make coffee and in the nuts of an extract used in some sodas. When ingested by animals,
methylxanthines can cause vomiting and diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm,
tremors, seizures and even death.
sugar substitute, is now known to react as a poison. The study indicated that a 22-pound dog that ingests just a gram of Xylitol
will die without treatment. A dog that has eaten an item containing Xylitol can be rapidly hit by a dangerous drop in
blood sugar that causes weakness, lethargy, loss of coordination, collapse, and seizures. Those symptoms can develop within
30 minutes, and a dog so afflicted will need immediate veterinary treatment to survive. Without help irreversible brain trauma
occurs, and the patient dies.
NUTS: Dogs have become dramatically ill from ingesting just a handful of Macadamia nuts. The nuts
contain an unknown toxin that can upset your animal’s digestive tract and muscles, setting off severe weakness, even
paralysis, vomiting, and diarrhea. The only good news about these nuts is that virtually all dogs recover with 48 hours of
ingestion whether or not they are treated by a vet.
All alcoholic beverages and food products containing alcohol can cause vomiting, diarrhea, decreased coordination,
central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma and even death.
let your dogs and cats get into the trash. There can be all kinds of foods, bones, cleaning products, an endless number of
items that can cause serious harm, and may even be fatal.
LIQUID POTOURRI: Cats
and dogs have been known to be badly burned while lapping up hot oils and detergents, damaging the animal’s mouth, throat,
and/or gastrointestinal tract. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has seen 330 such cases since 2001...most of them involving
animal guardians would not ever leave an open container of medications lying around; however, dogs have been known to open
containers by knocking them around or crushing even childproof containers.
FLOWERING PLANTS: The
ASPCA receives dozens of calls each spring from animal guardians that their cats ate a lily. “Ingesting even very small
amounts can result in kidney damage,” says Ann Hohenhaus, DVM, chair of the department of medicine at the Animal Medical
Center in New York City.
Dogs and cats
can also get sick from eating azalea, oleander, or rhododendron,
to name a few which can lead to vomiting, drooling, diarrhea, weakness, depression of the central
nervous system, and, in rare cases, can be fatal.
POLYURETHANE GLUE: You
might never even think that glue would attract your dog, but the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center reports a 309 percent
increase in glue-related incidents since 2002. “Dogs see a bottle lying on the floor and think it’s a toy,”
explains Dr. Hanson. Glue, he says, is bad news. “When swallowed, it goes to the stomach, absorbs moisture, and expands
to form a large rock-like mass.”
an animal can choke on any coin, pennies are particularly dangerous because they are made with zinc, which is toxic to animals.
When a penny sits in an animal’s stomach, the zinc leaches out into the red blood cells, resulting in severe anemia
and kidney problems. The newer the penny, the more likely it is to be deadly. That’s because pennies minted after 1982
are 99.2 percent zinc; those minted earlier are only 5 percent zinc.
PINE-OIL CLEANERS: Any
cleaning product name ending in …sol is a poison to animals…especially cats. The phenol in these products can cause
serious liver damage. Just licking the residue off of their paws can be sufficient to cause kidney damage.
year, by some estimates, about 10,000 dogs and cats are victims of accidental poisoning by automobile antifreeze. The sweet
taste of antifreeze attracts animals, but less than a teaspoonful can be fatal. Antifreeze containers that are not tightly
sealed or discarded carelessly, spills along the road, and leaks on driveways can pose a threat to animals. Dogs are known
to chew through containers to get at antifreeze.
COCOA SHELL GARDEN MULCH: Cocoa Mulch is manufactured by Hershey's;
it contains theobromine, a xanthine compound similar in effects to caffeine and theophylline; the same as any chocolate substance,
which is lethal to dogs and cats. It smells like chocolate; thus attracts dogs. Several deaths have already
occurred after developing severe convulsions.
SWIFFER WETJET: Check the label.
In very small print there’s a warning which states: “May be harmful to small children and animals.”
This cleaning agent is just one molecule away from antifreeze. Just by a cat
or dog walking on the floor, and then licking their paws, it is enough to cause liver failure.
Call your veterinarian or
any animal emergency clinic or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 or National Animal Poison Control
Center (800) 548-2423 immediately if you believe your animal has ingested any of the above-mentioned products.
My suggestion is to have
Hyland’s Upset Stomach (contains the homeopathic remedies Nux Vomica 3X and Carbo Veg 3X) on hand at all times, and
you can give one tablet every 10-15 minutes while on your way to emergency care.
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