Dropping temperatures can bring with them a whole new set of potential pet toxins that may not have been as prevalent in the warmer months. Here are a few common winter toxins you should avoid to keep your pet healthy this season.
Antifreeze, with a sweet smell and taste, is toxic when ingested by pets. Ethylene glycol, the component that makes it dangerous, has the potential to be lethal to dogs and cats. Whether leaking from an engine or accidentally spilled on the garage floor, the smallest amount of consumed antifreeze can poison the brain, kidneys, and liver. It is absorbed quickly by the body, so seek immediate veterinary care if you believe your pet has ingested antifreeze.
Salt used to melt snow and ice should be used with caution around pets. A caustic substance, these particular salts can result in chapped and painful paws in both dogs and cats. Pets who lick their paws after walking through this salt can experience vomiting and seizures. Use a pet-friendly salt on sidewalks and driveways, and clean your pet’s paws after venturing outside.
Rodent poisons must be used with extreme caution, no matter the time of year. With several types available, nearly all have the potential to be lethal when consumed by pets. Long-acting anticoagulants result in internal bleeding, vitamin D3 ingestion leads to acute kidney failure, and, if bromethalin is consumed, brain swelling is a side effect. The sooner veterinary care is received after a pet consumes a rodenticide, the better chance your pet has of surviving. When notifying us or an emergency veterinary clinic of possible ingestion, please identify the type of toxin consumed (if known) to better aid in treatment.
Potpourri, both in liquid and dry forms, needs to be used with caution around pets. The liquid variety is used around heat, which, if consumed, can result in burns from the corrosive chemicals. Cats are more susceptible to this form of poisoning, so watch for pawing at the mouth, vomiting, lethargy, difficulty swallowing, and abdominal pain. While the dry variety of potpourri may seem less risky, if ingested, chemical burns are still possible. Gastrointestinal upset and obstruction are also possible.
Human cold medications should be stored properly in all homes with pets. Certain decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine, have the potential to be harmful to your pet when ingested. They can cause restlessness, increased heart rate, decreased blood pressure, seizures, and death depending on the amount consumed.
During the winter months, seasonal treats tend to be readily available. Homemade candies and baked goods need to be kept out of reach of pets. Chocolate is toxic to both dogs and cats, but cats tend to be less interested in consuming this particular treat. Not all chocolates are created equal—the darker the chocolate, the higher the levels of theobromine and caffeine, which are the toxic ingredients. Signs of chocolate poisoning include gastrointestinal upset, irregular heart beat, and seizures. Grapes and raisins, often present in baked goods, have the potential to initiate kidney failure in dogs when consumed. Xylitol, a sugar free sweetener, is most often present in gum and candy. Its ingestion can lead to liver failure in dogs.
Carbon monoxide levels should be monitored for the safety of the humans and animals living in your home. With colder temperatures upon us, the use of furnaces and gas space heaters increases, and we are spending more time indoors. These factors can result in an increased risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Be sure your carbon monoxide detector works and that the batteries have been replaced recently. Avoid keeping pets in running vehicles to further reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Take the time to educate yourself on potential toxins in your home, and be vigilant when out and about with your pet this winter. If you think your pet has come into contact with a potential toxin, call our office immediately.