Have you ever looked at your pet and wondered why they ate something they should not have?
Most times, whatever they have eaten will pass without any issue but there are times when it does not. This is a story about one of those times.
We would like everyone to meet Harrold a 3.5 year old Spaniel who decided it would be fun to eat carpet....
It did not appear he ate a lot, nor did he initially appear sick. Harold was seen and x-rays were taken which confirmed that he did indeed have carpet in his stomach and part of his small intestine.
While preparing for surgery, Harold did vomit a very large amount of carpet. Repeat x-rays showed he did empty his stomach, but had a large quantity remaining within the intestinal tract. He required two incisions to completely remove the blockage and the surgery was a success!
Due to the intensive nature of any intestinal surgery, Harrold would not be fully out of the woods until he can continue to keep oral medications and food down without showing pain or signs of infection. Harrold excelled at this and was able to be discharged and recover with his family!
What should you do if your pet ingests something they shouldn't? Knowing specific amounts, brands, ingredients and approximate time of ingestion can be of the utmost of importance.
Contact us immediately if there is any questions about what to do for your next steps following an ingestion.
Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS, DABT, DABVT & Renee Schmid, DVM
During the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it is easy to let your guard down when it comes to preventing toxic exposures to your pet. While the holidays bring more challenges to the already difficult winter months, we cannot forget about outdoor toxin concerns frequently seen this time of year. Below is a list of holiday-related decorations, plants and food items that the veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline recommend keeping away from pets.
Holiday Ornaments and decorations:
When decorating for the season, consider your pets. Holiday decorations such as old-fashioned bubble lights may contain poisonous chemicals. If a pet chews on them, the liquid inside could be dangerous to their health. Methylene chloride, the chemical in older bubble lights, can result in depression, aspiration pneumonia, and irritation to the eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract. Glass ornaments that shine and shimmer are often an enticing toy for your pet. However, if they were to bite in to, or break one during play, the small glass pieces can lead to lacerations to the skin and mouth, as well as damage to the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract.
Homemade dough ornaments pose a risk for causing elevated sodium levels that may lead to severe neurologic abnormalities. If any of these types of tree decorations are being used for your tree, it is recommended to keep them towards the upper portion of the tree, where they are less likely to be accessed by your pet. Many animals develop electrical burns in their mouth from chewing on strands of lights, particularly cats and puppies. It is ideal to minimize dangling light strands to make them less appealing to pets.
Another holiday ornament to avoid is tinsel. If you own a cat, toss the tinsel! What looks like a shiny toy to your cat can prove deadly if ingested. While tinsel itself is not “poisonous,” it can result in a linear foreign body when eaten. A linear foreign body occurs when your pet swallows something “stringy” (like ribbon, yarn, tinsel, etc.), which wraps around the base of the tongue or anchors itself in the stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. As the intestines contract and move, this string or linear foreign body can slowly saw through the tissue, resulting in severe, potentially life threatening damage to your pet’s intestinal tract. Ultimately, pets run the risk of severe injury to, or rupture of, their intestines and treatment requires costly abdominal surgery. Save your holiday bonus for yourself instead of your pet’s surgery, and keep tinsel, ribbon, yarn, thread, fabric, etc. out of reach!
Filling your house with the smell of nutmeg or pine for the holidays may seem inviting—but if you’re partial to heating your scented oils in a simmer pot, know that they can cause serious harm to your cat; even a few licks can result in severe chemical burns in the mouth, fever, difficulty breathing, and tremors. Dogs aren’t as sensitive, but it’s still better to be safe than sorry—so scent your home with a non-toxic candle kept safely out of kitty’s reach. Dry potpourri may also cause chemical burns in the mouth, and also potential foreign bodies and gastrointestinal upset depending on the size of animal and amount ingested. While candles are often scented with oils, the largest concern with ingestion is a foreign body and potential obstruction. In addition to an upset stomach, surgical removal of the candle may be necessary in severe cases.
Though they have a bad rap, poinsettia plants are only mildly toxic. Far more worrisome are holiday bouquets containing lilies (Lilium spp), holly, or mistletoe. Even bouquets brought into the house by holiday guests should be thoroughly inspected, as lilies are one of the most commonly used. Just one or two bites from a lily can result in kidney failure in cats – even the pollen and water that the plant is in are thought to be poisonous! When in doubt, don’t let these bouquets in a cat-loving household!
Other yuletide plants such as holly berries and mistletoe can also be toxic to pets. When Christmas or English holly is ingested, it can result in severe gastrointestinal upset thanks to the spiny leaves and the potentially toxic substances (including saponins, methylxanthines, and cyanogens). If ingested, most pets smack their lips, drool, and head shake excessively due to the mechanical injury from the spiny leaves. As for mistletoe, most of us hang it high enough so it’s out of reach of our pets – nevertheless, it can also be toxic if ingested. Thankfully, American mistletoe is less toxic than the European varieties. Mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation are seen, although if ingested in large amounts, collapse, hypotension (low blood pressure), ataxia (difficulty walking), seizures and death have also been reported.
Recently, florists have started to use Japanese Yew (Taxus spp.) to make wreaths – all parts of this evergreen except for the flesh of the red aril are very poisonous, as they contain taxines, a cardiotoxin. If ingested, this plant can result in dizziness, an abnormal heart rate (initially elevated, then slowed), hypotension, dilated pupils, coma, and death. As horses are very susceptible to yew poisoning, make sure not to have this around the barn or pasture!
Most people know not to give alcoholic drinks to their pets; however, alcohol poisoning in pets is more common than you think. This is because alcohol can be found in surprising places! Rum-soaked fruitcake, or unbaked dough that contains yeast, result in alcohol poisoning and other problems. Rising dough will expand in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloat, which can then progress to a GDV or gastric-dilitation with volvulus (twisted stomach). Signs of this include vomiting, non-productive retching, distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, and weakness or collapse. Secondly, alcohol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and affects pets quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.
With the holiday season comes a delightful variety of baked goods, chocolate confections and other rich, fattening foods. However, it is not wise, and in some cases, quite dangerous, to share these treats with your pets. Keep your pet on his or her regular diet over the holidays and do not let family and friends sneak in treats. Foods that can present problems include:
Ice melts are commonly used around entryways and sidewalks and the containers that are filled with these products are often left within a pet’s reach. There are numerous formulations available, many of which contain salt (sodium chloride), and small exposures typically lead to stomach upset, and dermal and paw pad irritation. Larger ingestions may quickly cause salt poisoning which can result in a rapid onset of vomiting, excessive thirst and seizures. If your pet has consumed any amount of ice melt, it is important to call for help.
When it comes to the holidays, the best thing a pet owner can do is to become educated on common indoor and outdoor household toxins and pet-proof your environment accordingly. If you think your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680, with any questions or concerns.
The most popular holidays of the year, (Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas) are times for family, friends, decorations and treats. Pet owners can celebrate the holidays safely by avoiding this list of poisonous or hazardous materials found around your house during the holiday seasons...
As always, if you are concerned your pet may have consumed a potentially hazardous item or is showing any of the warning signs above, make sure to contact us immediately.
Question: I’ve heard that sugarless gum can be toxic to my dog...Is that true?
Answer: There are a lot of myths out there regarding things that can be bad for your furry friends, but unfortunately, this one is indeed true. Sugarless candy and gum can contain an ingredient called xylitol, a common sugar substitute which can be fatal.
There are two different ways that xylitol can have potentially fatal effects. First, the pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and then releases insulin to store the “sugar.” The insulin then removes real sugar from the blood stream instead, leading to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This causes disorientation, weakness, tremors and even seizures.
Higher doses of xylitol can actually cause destruction of liver cells. In the worst cases, this can lead to an inability to clot blood and internal hemorrhage. It is still not understood how xylitol causes liver damage, and not all dogs will experience signs of low blood sugar first before liver damage occurs.
As little as one stick of gum could cause hypoglycemia in a 10 pound dog. It takes about ten times that amount to cause liver damage in a 10 pound dog. If your dog ingests sugarless gum, it is best to get them to their veterinarian right away so that vomiting can be induced. IV fluids and blood monitoring may also be necessary. As always, call us if you have any questions.
Question: Why does my animal itch so much?!
Answer: Unquestionably, this is a loaded question, but we can break it down into three basic categories of why your animal might be itching. The categories include, but are not limited to, allergies, skin parasites, and skin infections. Skin allergies can be broken down into a food allergy or an environmental allergy.
Environmental allergies are diagnosed by doing a skin test (similar to a scratch test in humans) to find out what the animal is allergic to. Once completed, allergy injections are then given to hyposensitize the patient. A food allergy is treated by feeding a hypoallergenic diet with single unique protein ingredients such as fish, rabbit, duck or venison with a single carbohydrate such as potato or rice and no other treats or chewable supplements can be given for a minimum of eight weeks.
Skin parasites include fleas and a variety of mites which can be diagnosed through a physical exam and skin scraping. Parasitic skin infections are treated with dips and oral anti-parasitic medications. Skin infections are usually secondary to skin allergies and parasites and require antibiotics to resolve it. Without a doubt, skin issues can be very frustrating and time consuming to treat, but there is light at the end of the tunnel with some patience and persistence.
Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions, or if you think your pet may have a skin condition.
Question: What is this and why is it green?
Answer: This is a corneal ulcer in the eye of a dog. The reason that it is green is because in order to diagnose a corneal ulcer, we must do a fluorescein stain to see if there is any green uptake indicating an ulcer. A corneal ulcer is a break in the outer layer of the cornea and though initially painful, should heal within 4 to 7 days with appropriate topical antibiotics.
However, ulcers that are not healing are deemed complicated and may require surgery to help the healing process. Signs of an eye ulcer include holding their eyelids shut, excessive tearing and blinking, and rubbing their eye on things.
If you suspect a coronary ulcer, see a veterinarian immediately because simple ulcers can quickly develop into complicated ulcers which can compromise your dog’s vision.
One of our patients got into some D-con. The owners noticed right away, and we were able to induce vomiting to get it out of her system. She is doing great!
D-con mouse and rat poison contains a chemical that prevents clotting. When an animal ingests the poison, it can take 3-5 days before clinical signs are noticed. Clinical signs include lethargy, coughing, exercise intolerance, vomiting, blood in the stool, pale gums, collapse, nose bleeds, blood in the urine or feces, and bruising. There is an anecdote to the poison, called vitamin K. Many patients who receive treatment survive, but if not caught early enough, ingesting the poison can be fatal.
Patients are treated for at least one month with vitamin K. A blood test to check clotting times should be performed after one month to make sure the patient is no longer affected.
If you see your pet ingest D-con, you should contact your veterinarian right away. If your pet is showing signs of illness and you have D-con in the house, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
I found a tick attached to my dog yesterday and pulled it off.
Could he have Lyme disease?
Lyme disease is caused by a tiny blood parasite that is spread by infected ticks. Not all ticks have Lyme disease, but the prevalence of Lyme infected ticks is increasing across the Midwest. Luckily, there are very effective measures that can be taken to prevent Lyme disease in our pets.
First, use a monthly tick prevention such as Frontline or Vectra. These products cause the ticks to die before they are able to transmit diseases.
Second, remove any attached ticks that you find on your pet immediately. Remove them by firmly grasping the body of the tick near the head and pulling back with firm traction. A tick must be attached for at least 24 hours to successfully transmit the Lyme parasite to a pet.
Third, vaccinate and/or test your dog for Lyme disease if recommended for your specific situation. If you remove a tick that is attached but not engorged (filled with blood) it most likely has not been attached long enough to cause a problem. Watch any bite areas on your pet closely for continued redness or signs of infection like swelling and discharge.
Signs of Lyme disease include fever, lethargy, joint pain, joint swelling, and lameness.
Question: Is chocolate really toxic to my dog? My lab ate a Cadbury egg yesterday and nothing happened.
Answer: Yes, chocolate is harmful for your pet to eat. The compound that makes it toxic is called theobromine. Theobromine is in all chocolate, but varies in amount depending on the type of chocolate. Milk chocolate has some of the least amounts, while baking chocolate and dark chocolate have the highest amounts. Dogs can not metabolize theobromine the same way that humans can.
The level of toxicity depend on the weight of your dog, the amount they eat, and the type of chocolate that they eat. When your pet eats chocolate, it is best to call your veterinarian right away. Calculations can be done to find out if your pet has eaten too much. Even if not at a toxic level, any amount of chocolate can give your pet an upset stomach and can lead to vomiting and diarrhea, and even pancreatitis.
If the amount of chocolate is toxic, your pet can have an elevated heart rate and can even start having seizures and can potentially die as a result. Treatment needs to be started immediately for these pets that eat toxic amounts. Treatment can include induction of vomiting, IV fluids, and administration of charcoal to help bind the theobromine and prevent absorption.
Your lab is probably big enough that the amount of theobromine in the Cadbury egg not enough to cause a toxicity problem, but we recommend you continue to monitor for vomiting and diarrhea. It is still best to keep all chocolate out of reach of your pets at all times.
Question: I want to make my own dog treats, what ingredients do I need to avoid?
Answer: With all of the treat recalls of recent years, many people have gone to making their own treats. There are many recipe books specifically designed for homemade dog treats. We would hope that the authors would research the ingredients prior to publishing, but it is better to check out the recipe yourself.
The main ingredients to avoid in making dog treats would be grapes, raisins, garlic, onion, chocolate, and macadamia nuts. These ingredients are the main toxic human foods. Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure, however the quantity of ingestion is not known. Onions and garlic, while mythically said to keep away fleas, can cause the red blood cells within the blood stream to burst and not be able to carry oxygen. Chocolate has different degrees of cocoa which contains theobromine. This component can cause changes to the heart rate and rhythm which can be deadly in high quantities. Finally macadamia nuts can cause hind limb weakness and ataxia (incoordination) even in small quantities.
Don’t let this list of dog treat don’ts scare you though! There are plenty of healthy and delicious homemade dog treat recipes you can try for your pet! They look so delicious, I don’t know if they would ever make it into the dog bowl!
If you ever have questions about these or any ingredients, feel free to give your vet a call, or visit our website at www.pipevet.com.