Maybe you got a new puppy for Christmas; maybe you have an old dog who has been a cherished companion for many years. It doesn’t matter the age, gender or species of your dog: they all eat things they shouldn’t.
Jeanne Scott took her 4-year-old yellow lab, Buck, for a walk on the El Dorado Trail. “He was on a long lead ahead of me. He ate something very small out of a piece of tinfoil and swallowed it before I could tell him to drop it,” said Scott. Two hours later, Buck couldn’t stand up and he lost control of his urine. Scott and her husband rushed him to the Smith Flat Animal Hospital near their home.
“Dr. Kennedy treated him and, after about 12 hours he could finally stand on his own, but it took two days for the effects to wear off,” said Scott. She and her husband went back to the trail and found the tinfoil packet which had traces of an oily substance and the strong odor of marijuana.
Marijuana, it turns out, is toxic to dogs. “Most dogs, if they ingest only a very small amount, will pull through with or without medical help,” said Dr. William Kennedy, who treated Buck, “but in some cases, dogs can aspirate, become comatose and have trouble breathing.”
Most people know about chocolate being toxic to dogs, but they may not be aware that marijuana, alcohol and caffeine can be toxic as well. There are other foods and substances that are even worse for pets.
Xylitol, for example. It’s found in many sugar-free foods and it’s deadly for dogs. “Just one stick of sugar-free gum could kill a 10-pound puppy,” said Kennedy. Other little known dangers are pennies and mushrooms. “Pennies aren’t just a problem because they cause a blockage — they are made of zinc, not copper, and zinc is poisonous to dogs. Also, at this time of year, mushrooms spring up in yards and driveways. Some of them are just irritants, but others are toxic and it’s hard to tell which is which.”
Toxicity with some substances or foods, like marijuana or chocolate, depends on the species of the dog, its weight, how much was ingested and of what type. “Baking chocolate is more dangerous for dogs than milk chocolate,” said Kennedy.
Surprisingly some of the foods considered healthy choices for people are some of the worst choices for dogs. Foods like avocados, onions, garlic, grapes, raisins, dairy, bread dough, persimmons, peaches and plums are some of the things that can make canines ill or even kill them.
“Human medications both prescription and over the counter account for more than 50 percent of poisonings each year,” said Kennedy. “Things like blood pressure medication and sleep aids cause huge problems for dogs and cats, even death.” While some human medications can be used for dogs, Kennedy said it depends on the dog species, the dosage and the dosage intervals. “Some medications can never be given to dogs or cats; others should only be given with your vet’s guidance.”
Kennedy had three recent cases of poisoning when the owner had left the dog in a car for only a moment — along with a bag of medication or a purse with gum and sugar-free candy.
“Dogs are curious and they will eat anything if they have access to it,” said Kennedy. “Puppies, in particular, eat everything, whether it is food or not.” He advises keeping an open eye for pet accessibility to toxic substances in the house, in the car, in the yard and in the garage, where rat-bait and anti-freeze are particularly attractive to dogs and deadly for them.
Some flowers and plants are also dangerous, like oleanders, azaleas and rhododendrons. “Lilies are especially dangerous for cats,” said Kennedy. “Indoor cats without access to vegetables or grass will often chew on plants and flowers in the house.”
“With poisoning, every minute matters,” said Kennedy. “If your dog has eaten something and you can’t reach your vet, there are two poison control centers that might be even faster than going to the emergency clinic.” The ASPCA Poison Control Center and the Pet Poison Helpline are both manned by toxicologists with quick access to data about poisons said Kennedy.
Being aware of toxic substances in your pet’s environment, monitoring your pet carefully if you think it might have eaten something strange and keeping the poison control center phone numbers handy could keep that Christmas puppy healthy and happy for a long time.
ASPA Poison Control is 1-888-426-4435 and the Pet Poison Helpline is 1 800-213-6680. Both centers charge a fee for services.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.