The latest statistics show that over 100,000 dogs each year are poisoned from common household items, foods, and medications. After doing some research I was amazed at some of the items that make the top ten list of substances that poison our babies.
The most common element of our everyday lives that can be fatal for our dogs is human prescription medications. They are often left on bedside tables to be easily accessible for us. Unfortunately that easy access applies to our dogs as well. Even small amounts of pain medications, antidepressants, and blood pressure medications can do irreparable damage to our canine friends. Dogs that are owned by the elderly are the most likely to fall victim to this type of poisoning.
In second place on the list of the most common toxic materials for our dogs is not a surprise. Insecticides can be quickly fatal. One of the most common used insecticides around our pets is the flea and tick prevention that many of us depend on to keep the pests off our babies. Apparently it is fairly common for large doses to be split between several small dogs and the danger is very real that the dose will be too high. I just recently learned that Dawn dish detergent is an excellent product to use to kill many of these pests. Doc Jess suggested I use it to bathe the Three Musketeers when they came to the sanctuary with ticks. It did the trick and did not dry out their skin. It also works great to spray your yard to kill ticks and fleas.
Over-the-counter medications come in third on this list. Acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and Advil are some of the most common over-the-counter medications that we all use. Herbal medications and joint supplements can also be deadly for canines. Most incidents of these type of poisoning occur when these medications are spilled or dropped on the ground. I know my babies will jump on anything that I drop thinking it might be a tasty morsel and will often eat it before they inspect it.
Medications such as dewormers and pain meds that are prescribed for our dogs are in fourth place on the list. While they are essential to the care of our little guys, they can be deadly in doses that exceed the prescribed amounts.
Fifth on the list is common household products. We all know that bleach, many cleaners, antifreeze, paint thinners, pool chemicals, etc., are dangerous to humans as well as dogs. I did not know that common fire logs also pose a huge risk for dogs. Chemical burns, depression, upset stomach, renal failure and death can be the result of even tiny exposure to ingestion of these substances.
Human foods can also be extremely dangerous for our dogs, and they are number six on the list. Alcohol, even in small amounts can cause vomiting, breathing problems, and irreversible coma. Avocados, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, bread dough, onions, and garlic are some of the more common foods that we all enjoy. They can be deadly for our dogs. I have noticed a new trend with dog owners to give their pets more and more human foods to supplement their dog food. Nothing is wrong with that as long as the owners are doing their homework to insure the foods they share with their dogs are safe. I have found with my dogs that the more human food they eat, the more they beg for human food. While Rick and I are aware of what they can and cannot have, they will carry that begging behavior over to any guests that might not be cognicent of the dangers. With the holiday season approaching we must be alert to these innocent situations that can cause grave damage to our little guys.
Chocolate is one thing that most of us know is dangerous for our dogs. It stands alone at number seven on the list of most common poisons. The darker more bitter chocolates that are common in our kitchens such as baking chocolate are the most dangerous because they contain the most methylxanthines such as caffeine. The size of the dog and the amount consumed will determine how lethal ingestion of chocolate can be. Years ago our beloved Christy managed to get on the kitchen table while we were gone. She consumed a corner of a slab of fudge before we came home and caught her. She vomited for several hours but thankfully recovered under Doc Jess’ care.
Many popular indoor and outdoor plants also pose a risk for our canine friends, and they occupy the eighth spot on the list. Azaleas, rhododendrons, tulips, daffodils, carnations, calla lillies, and begonias are only a few on this list of culprits. The bulbs and seeds of many plants are also killers for our babies.
Number nine is rodenticides. Living in the country we deal with mice on an ongoing basis. Years ago we had a little Scottish Terrier that made her way into my pantry cabinet and she not only ate a box of mouse poison, but she also ate the BOX! An IV of B12 saved her life. Needless to say we have not had any mouse poison on our property since. We were naive enough to to think that dogs would not eat those poisons. And we were unaware of how dangerous it can be for a mouse that has ingested those poisons and becomes crazy to wander out into the middle of a room where a dog could and would kill it. The poison inside the mouse will poison the dog as well. Needless to say, we now use traps instead of poison.
Last on the list is our many lawn and garden products we use to protect our expensive landscapes. We have a huge population of ants in our area and we have had several dogs fall prey to multiple bites from an ant bed that we were unaware of. I learned about ten years ago that corn meal will kill many different types of ants as well as most insects that play havoc in my vegetable garden. Such an easy, inexpensive solution to what can be an overwhelming problem.
If you ever find yourself in the situation where you feel your dog has been poisoned there are several steps to take immediately. Try to discover what they may have gotten into. Call the Pet Poison Helpline at 855-213-6680. They can help keep you calm while the needs of your pet are evaluated. Don’t try to neutralize the toxin yourself. Several home remedies that have been popular over the decades such as milk, salt, or aspirin can in fact cause more problems. Some cases will require the induction of vomiting, others will be more dangerous if the dog vomits. Your veterinarian is best equipped to make those determinations. Take samples, if possible, of any toxin in question, the packaging of that toxin, vomitus from your dog, or any stools produced after ingestion for examination and testing by your vet.
Basically making our environment safe for our dogs is the same as baby proofing our homes. We must all be aware of the dangers and be willing to investigate the risks of everything our smallest family members are exposed to.