PET TOXICITY: KEEP YOUR PETS AWAY FROM POISON DURING THE HOLIDAYS
When I was working at Banfield in 2013, our most popular days were the day after Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas morning. It’s not surprising that we happen to feast the most those holidays, especially turkey and ham. Unfortunately, wanting to share your meals and your merry behavior with your pets can be toxic, fatal, and cause liver, kidney, and pancreas problems. It’s important to remember that just because we are celebrating doesn’t mean we can start to feed our pets things we wouldn’t naturally. After one drunk Dog (Aunt Sarah brought over liquor-filled chocolates), two foreign body surgeries (inability to pass the turkey, chicken, and ham bones), cat E.R. transfers (plant toxicity), and other foreign bodies such as Sock removal, strings removal, and yes, wedding ring removal. I decided it best to write EVERY year to remind my fellow friends to be extra cautious with your pets on holidays.
There are a couple of main reasons your pet may or may not ingest something during the holiday season. There are also a couple of main reasons your cat or dog may be lethargic (tired), anorexic (loss of appetite), ADR (slang for ain’t doing right), and why your dog and or cat may be exhibiting destructive behavior.
- Your pets don’t understand Thanksgiving and Christmas; they know that it usually causes us to sweat (anxiety, excitement, stress). They see that we are suddenly running around the house, rearranging our belongings and moving things around, including our pet’s stuff. They see an uprise in tidying up, adding trees and other foreign objects and food (chocolates, nuts, decorations) to our homes, and altogether it’s just a confusing time for them. After all, in doggy years, the last Thanksgiving was seven years ago. The joy of the holidays usually comes the day of or after, when everything goes great, and your home is back to being and smelling it’s the authentic way.
2. Something as little as moving your cat’s tree out of the way or rearranging his toys without his permission can cause not only anorexia but urinary blockage. In male cats predominantly, the urethra (straw-like body part that the pee comes from), which is already smaller than it should be, is curved. Suppose the urethra is blocked from excreting any of its urine through the passageway, often caused by the sudden onset of stress. In that case, that pressure builds up; it will cause urinary issues over time, and, when not addressed within 24 hours, will cause a blockage and 72 hours, death. What happens to a cat during a backup? They are no longer urinating, they are straining, nothing is coming out after every attempt, and their bladder is large and hard to palpate. Not addressing promptly, your cat will suffer and then fatally and uncomfortably die. Dogs feed off of human energy. If you are anxious and running around, don’t find it uncommon that your dog mimics your behavior. If you are crating your dog for the first time, it’s not the time to experiment and add the pillows and toys in there. Please keep it simple, keep it toxic-free, and keep your pets safe.
We have extended family members and friends. I say this as in they are the ones who send us the nuts, chocolates, poinsettias, and other news and exciting things. We wrap our trees to look beautiful to impress our friends and family. We cover our tree with tiny, foreign body objects for our friends and family. It’s not uncommon that your baby nephew is feeding your dog under the table. It’s not unusual to find your cat playing with a string that came from your Christmas tree or nibbling on the leaves of a new plant.
Bones are NOT okay for dogs to ingest; to start because they aren’t adequately digested. If the dog can pass bones through defecating, it’s unlikely to be a pleasurable experience but more a less bloody.
Overfeeding any animal can be toxic, plants are EXTREMELY toxic to cats, and of course, dogs cannot eat chocolate, just because It’s a holiday.
Toxicities unaddressed with charcoal or induced vomiting within the first 15-25 minutes will require an emergency veterinary visit. Your local veterinary is unlikely to be open, so it’s a wise idea to have your nearest 24/7 E.R. vet’s phone numbers at hand as well as the poison hotline for pets.
It’s generally not a good time for your family to see and play with your pets. If you can make prior arrangements to put your cat and or dog away in a comfortable, safe spot, that is best. They have every day to roam freely, and though it may seem to mean, what’s more, meaningful is putting your pets at risk for ingesting foreign objects.
Cats mainly CAN NOT HANDLE STRESS. I can’t say that enough. Do not mess with your cat’s belongings. As I said, something as little as moving the cat tree can set your cat off. If your cat is usually a little finicky, I STRONGLY suggest you ask your Veterinarian for a tranquilizer/sedative for your pets.
No Veterinarian will deny your pet anxiety meds around a holiday or before a car trip. It’s the most common call we get. If you cannot pick up a prescription from your Vet, CALL THEM and let them know you’re worried about your pet’s anxiety during the holidays.
After the front desk gets the doctor’s approval, they will let you know, and you can tell the staff where you want to pick up those meds. Vets can call into CVS, JEWEL, WALGREENS, COSTCO; you name it. The drug they use is a human-grade drug (generally Trazadone or benzo diazepam), so most pharmacies carry it. Online pharmacies such as 1-800-PET MEDS and chewy.com will send your doctor an authorization, which they will approve via fax. I urge you to get the medicine from your Veterinarian because if you choose an online pharmacy and your pet has adverse reactions, the company that makes the drugs will NOT pay for treatment. If you get your dog’s prescriptions (any kind) from your Veterinarian and an adverse reaction, the Veterinarian or the company that supplies the drug will pay for your pet’s treatment.
Regardless, your Vet isn’t just there for your pet to see in person once a year; your Vet is like your doctor. You call when something is wrong, they call you to see how your pet is; most vets can remember most clients and pets, and keeping your cat and dog STRESS-free is very important. During this call, you can note some other issues or just how your pet has been doing, so the front desk can keep up to date with notes. No vet cares if your dog is behind in rabies, they won’t shame you.
Just call them, and they will fill the script if you’ve seen them within the past year and most likely if you’ve seen them within the past three years. There is a Veterinary guarantee year (this is the duration of an active relationship with your pet and Vet). If you do not want to medicate your pets, products such as calming herbal medicine and Feliway infusions for cats work great.
The point is, the holidays come and go. Your pets should be able to enjoy them with you, but there are just sometimes when it’s better to put them somewhere for their safety. You do not want a $6,000 foreign body surgery bill because you felt bad that your dog couldn’t be out during dinner time. These toxicities and surgeries are possibly fatal; they leave LONG-TERM DAMAGE to the liver, kidneys, and pancreas.
Now for the moment, we’ve all been waiting for:
HUMAN OTC MEDICINE AND PRESCRIPTION MEDICINE
It’s easy for us to assume that what helps us when we’re suffering may help our pets. While some medicines are interchangeable at a veterinarian’s discretion, most are not.
Dog and humans do not share the same genetics or operate their internal machinery the same way humans do. Cats are more likely to handle human medicine, as we do share some similar DNA with them. Either way, unless prescribed to your dog- any medication ingested should be reported to your Vet, even if they aren’t exhibiting symptoms.
- Prescription anti-inflammatory and pain medications can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers or kidney failure.
- Antidepressants can cause vomiting and, in more severe instances, serotonin syndrome — a dangerous condition that raises the temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure and may cause seizures.
- Blood pressure medications.
It’s hard to even for Veterinary Workers not to want to cave in to their dogs begging, sweet eyes as you’re enjoying your chocolate cake or pre-dinner chips & guacamole. Not giving them what they wish to is similar to not going for a walk with them when the weather is below freezing or the pavement is too hot. They are always going to beg, but YOU know they can’t eat these things. It’s important to print this list as a reference. Every household should have an open plan for everyone to see what is acceptable and not for their pet to eat.
- Alcohol. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in animals are similar to those in people and may include vomiting, breathing problems, coma, and, in severe cases, death.
- Avocado. You might think healthy, but avocados have a substance called persin that can act as a dog poison, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
- Macadamia nuts. Dogs may suffer from a series of symptoms, including weakness, overheating, and vomiting, after macadamia nuts.
- Grapes and raisins. Experts aren’t sure why, but these fruits can induce kidney failure in dogs. Even a small number may cause problems in some dogs.
- Xylitol. This sweetener is in many products, including sugar-free gum and candy. It causes a rapid drop in blood sugar, resulting in weakness and seizures. Liver failure also has been reported in some dogs.
Other foods you should keep away from your pet include tomatoes, mushrooms, and most seeds and nuts.
Top Poisons for CATS, Beware of These Feline Toxins
Following is a list of the top poisons for CATS, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. If you suspect that your cat has ingested or been exposed to a toxic substance, call your Veterinarian, a nearby emergency animal hospital, or the 24/7 Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680. You can also download their Pet Poison Help iPhone app.
HUMAN OTC AND PRESCRIPTION MEDS
some human over-the-counter and prescription medicines are a serious threat to cats, so keep them in a place they can’t get into, including:
- Cancer medicines
- Cold medicines
- Diet pills
- Pain relievers (acetaminophen, aspirin, ibuprofen)
- Vitamins and other supplements
You may have heard that some common drugs work for people and cats. Never give your pet any pills without first talking to your Vet, though — it’s easy to provide them with the wrong medicine or too much, which can kill them.
Your kitty may beg when you sit down to eat (or try to steal some bites when you’re not looking), but some human foods can be poisonous for them, including:
- Caffeine (coffee, soda, tea)
- Xylitol (found in sugarless gums, candies, kinds of toothpaste)
- Yeast dough
Indoor and Outdoor Plants
Common houseplants — and a few others that you may bring into your home — can be hazardous to your cat’s health, including the following:
Insecticides and Other Chemicals
Some chemicals taste especially good to cats. To keep them safe, keep any chemicals locked away, especially:
- De-icing salts (which pets may walkthrough, then lick from their pads)
- Dog flea and tick medication (pills, collars, spot-on flea treatments, sprays, shampoos)
- Insect and rodent bait
More Household Hazards
Watch out for everyday household items that can choke or strangle your cat. Some may even block their intestines if they swallow them.
- Chicken bones
- Dental floss, yarn, or string
- Holiday decorations, including lights and tinsel
- Toys with small or movable parts
IN THE EVENT OF POISONING OR CONCERN FOR PET
Every moment matters if you think your cat or dog has been exposed to something toxic.
Call your Vet. Post the clinic’s phone number in a prominent place, along with the number for the Animal Poison Control Center: (888) 426-4435. They can help you know what to do next.
Collect samples. Take samples of vomit, stool, and the poison your cat ate to the Vet with your cat. Make sure to watch, and take note of behavior and timing.
Know your Resources: Depending on where you live, there ARE nearby 24/7 emergency veterinarian EMERGENCY HOSPITALS. The emergency you take your pet if there is a severe emergency, as Veterinarians generally don’t handle emergencies unless they are non-severe. Have these resources printed and available for you or a family member to access at all times? You’ll thank yourself when or if you ever come into a situation where you need emergency help for your furry family.
Watch for symptoms of toxicity poisoning
- Breathing problems
- Dilated pupils
- Drinking more and urinating more
- Upset stomach
- A lot of salivae
- Skin irritation
Educate. After your pet recovers, call your poison control center or humane society to let them know what happened so they can track problem poisons and help prevent harm to other animals.
It’s essential to follow up with your Veterinarian too.
It’s possible that though the poison did not infect the body at the time, it did some damage to the internal organs down the line. It’s always, always, best to let your primary Veterinarian know these things.
7 Mobility Exercises CrossFit Athletes Can Do at Home | BOXROX. https://www.boxrox.com/mobility-exercises-crossfit-athletes-can-do-at-home-stretch/
10 Dog Poisons: Plants, Foods, Medicines, and More. https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/top-10-dog-poisons
Top Cat Poisons: Plants, Medications, Insecticides, and More. https://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/top-10-cat-poisons
Top Household Hazards for Cats – Beare Garden Animal …. https://bgpanimalrescue.com/2020/05/top-household-hazards-for-cats-2/
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