Monday, December 5, 2011

Household Hazards Poison Control for Pets

Household Hazards &
Why Poison Control Is Your Friend!

Tobacco Products

Tobacco products contain varying amounts of nicotine.  Butts contain about 25% of the total nicotine content.  Signs often develop quickly (usually within 15-45 minutes) and include excitation, rapid breathing, salivation, vomiting, and diarrhea.  Muscle weakness, twitching, depression, elevated heart rate, shallow respiration, collapse, coma, and cardiac arrest can follow the period of excitation. Death occurs secondary to respiratory paralysis.
Treatment with recent ingestion in asymptomatic animals involves inducing emesis. Activated charcoal has been shown to be helpful in adsorbing nicotine. Patients should be monitored closely and treated symptomatically. Artificial respiration is indicated in patients with respiratory paralysis.

Drugs, both prescribed and illicit:
People sometimes require medications for pain, anxiety, attention deficit, depression, blood pressure, heart disease, etc.  Sometimes people are taking medications or illicit drugs and you aren’t aware of it.  And now they are visiting your house for the holidays, and they have left it our where your pet has access to it.

Tylenol, Aspirin, Ibuprofen and other NSAIDS!  You wouldn’t think that the medication you take for a headache would be that much of a problem but tylenol kills cats.  The other medications can cause gastrointestinal upset, ulcers, hemorrhage, and death if used inappropriately.

All of the other drugs have varying side effects and can also potentially kill your pet, so contact poison control if your pet is acting in an unusual manner; ask your guests if they may have accidentally left something around the pet could have ingested; have some idea of the number of pills the pet could have ingested; and bring drug vials with you to the veterinarian.  If it is an illegal drug, tell us anyway.  We want to save your pet, not get you or your houseguests into trouble with the authorities.  Knowing what your pet ingested guides the therapy that we institute.

Ice Melts

Many brands of sidewalk ice melts are on the market. The most common ingredients in these ice melts are sodium chloride, potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate, and calcium magnesium acetate. A few ice melts contain urea. Pets may be exposed by walking on the ice melts themselves or by ingesting granules brought inside on the shoes of the owner’s.
Ingestion of sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium salts can lead to vomiting and electrolyte abnormalities and pets may require appropriate fluid therapy.

Liquid Potpourri

Liquid potpourri is commonly used during the holiday season. Cats are often exposed to liquid potpourri by direct ingestion from simmer pots or spills, or by rubbing against leaky bottles or simmer pots containing the potpourri, or from spilling the containers upon themselves. Oral exposures result following grooming. Exposure of pets to some types of liquid potpourris can result in severe oral, skin, and eye damage.

In addition, potpourri can cause systemic toxicity including depression, coma, seizures, hypotension, muscular weakness, collapse, pulmonary edema, and blood mineral imbalances.  Medical care depends on what systems are being affected.

Silica Gel Packs

They are found in shoeboxes, electronics, medications and food to absorb moisture. Silica gel, one of the most common desiccants, comes in paper packets or plastic cylinders. Packages of silica gel are attractive to pets because of the rustling noise, and the packages are easy to bat around. Mild gastrointestinal upset may occur. Ingestion of the intact packet may cause a gastrointestinal obstruction.  Some moisture absorbing packs contain iron at levels that can cause illness as well.  These packs have dark grey or brown ingredients.

Electric Cords
(Yes, that is Dr. Lewis’ cat, Roger, hiding under the tree)

Chewing electric cords has appeal for some pets.  The pet may receive a life threatening shock, have thermal burns in the mouth, develop edema (fluid) in the lungs, and other potential complications.  Seek medical care if your pet has chewed a cord.  Unplug the tree and other cords when you are not at home or are asleep.  Cover cords with protectors when possible.  There are deterrents that you can apply to cords that taste bitter, and there is something called a ScatMat that you can place around your tree to keep the pet away from the hazards associated with the tree.

Curly Ribbon, Tinsel, Garland, Balloon Ribbon, Easter Basket Grass, and Craft Threads

Dangly fun for the cat, but once ingested acts as a saw and cuts through the intestines.  Nuff said!  Keep it out of the cat household!  Someone brings a present over; say thank you, then cut off and discard the ribbon immediately.

Poison Control - keep this information handy! It may save your pet! 

Blog by:
Dr. Dana Lewis
Dr. Dana assists families with Pet Hospice and In Home Euthanasia in the Raleigh North Carolina area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the greater Triangle, as well as Wake, Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties.)

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