Regular checkups ensure most health problems can be treated in
time to give pets a long life, but there are plenty of toxic products out there
that can be lethal if health care isn’t sought immediately. Here’s how you can
help your clients recognize the most common toxins, prevent their pets from
encountering them, and know when to seek medical treatment.
The Most Common Pet Toxins
In its pure form, theobromine, an alkaloid that naturally occurs in cocoa, is used as a vasodilator. The amount in processed cocoa-based foods is low enough to not have an effect on humans, but cats and dogs can’t metabolize theobromine as quickly as we can, so even small doses can be dangerous.
While this chemical is poisonous to both cats and dogs, cats are less likely than dogs to eat chocolate as they can’t taste sweetness in foods. Dark chocolate has higher amount of theobromine, making it more dangerous than regular milk chocolate.
Whether they’re intended for mice, rats or other pests like groundhogs, these poisons are designed to be eaten by their target, making them appealing to pets. Three toxic ingredients are commonly used in rodent poisons:
— Anticoagulants including Warfarin, a medicine used to control blood pressure in humans
— Bromethalin, a neurotoxin that prevents ATP production, shutting down cells
— Cholecalciferol, a type of vitamin D that stops calcium absorption in large doses
Symptoms and treatment will vary depending on the ingredients in the poison.
Like theobromine, this medicine causes problems in pets because they have trouble metabolizing it. Side effects present in human usage are amplified, including the breakdown of the mucosal layer that protects the digestive tract, decreased blood flow to the kidneys and abnormal bleeding. The first sign of ingestion is usually vomiting.
This sweetener is a sugar alcohol, so it tastes like sugar, but has fewer calories. When absorbed by some types of cells, this leads to starvation. This makes it popular in gum as it can kill off bad mouth bacteria without affecting good bacteria. Unfortunately, both cats and dogs have cells that can’t handle this sweetener. Consumption can lead to severe low blood sugar in dogs and both liver problems and reduced hunger in both animals.
Grapes and Raisins
How and why this fruit poisons dogs is not fully understood, but eating either grapes or raisins causes vomiting followed by kidney damage. Clients should be encouraged to contact your office as soon as they find out their pet has eaten these foods so treatment can begin immediately.
Occasionally given to pets to control behavior and anxiety issues, human-sized doses can cause issues with the central nervous system.
Medicines including Adderall and Ritalin commonly used to treat ADHD in humans can cause increased heart rate, blood pressure and elevated temperatures in pets. Worse still, many of these prescriptions are designed to last extended periods, prolonging symptoms.
Bone and fish meal are common ingredients in garden fertilizers, which make them taste good to dogs. Risk is low, but eating fertilizer can induce vomiting, pain and stiffness, especially if it contains processed sewage.
Cyanobacteria looks like algae, but it’s really a mass of toxic bacteria. Skin exposure causes minor irritation, but swallowing it can be deadly, leading to vomiting and convulsions. Pets need to be checked out if they’re covered in algae, as it indicates contact with polluted water.
Getting the Word Out
Basic toxin information should be a part of your new patient packet. A quick breakdown along with contact numbers will help clients notice problems and get treatment.
As with vaccination and heartworm treatment drives, sending a personalized veterinary card out when poison dangers are at their peak can help clients avoid them and know what to do if their pet come into contact with them.
Chocolate is more prevalent during the holiday season, especially around Halloween and Christmas. There are other less common dangers that pet owners should be aware of during this season, including sugary treats, glow sticks and candles.
Fertilizer is applied in spring and fall, but pets are more likely to come in contact with it in the spring when owners plant gardens. This requires heavier application than grass fertilizing.
Blue-green algae blooms suddenly, but some areas have seasons where these blooms are likely to occur. Here in Wisconsin, we usually see algae show up in lakes during June and September.
Keep Your Client’s Pets Safe With Help from Positive Impressions
Positive Impressions helps veterinary clinics connect with clients through a wide range of cards, calendars, appointment reminders and other products. We also carry everything you need to label medications, and we offer custom printing, letting you add clinic information, text and photos to our designs. If you’re looking for new ways to promote your business and keep in touch with your clientele, visit Positive Impressions for the latest specials and our most popular products.