Common Household Poisons and Dangers for Pets

During the holiday season, there is an increased risk to our pets of exposure to houshold poisons.

As the holiday season now approaches, it is a good time to remind animal guardians of the increased risk of toxin and household poison exposure for our companion animals.  This is especially important as people and their animals spend more time inside during the winter months.

One of the most common hazards seen is exposure to rodent poisons in the form of glue traps or live traps. It is very important for animal guardians to place such traps well out of their pet’s reach. As many rats and mice seek shelter in our homes in winter months, pets also may be exposed to secondary poisoning from rodents who have ingested bait used in many of these traps, and who may not be immediately killed.

The greatest risk of rodenticide exposure is the effect on blood clotting in our pets, leading to potentially life threatening hemorrhage.  Any pet suspected of being exposed to these rodenticides, either directly or indirectly, should be immediately taken to the nearest veterinary office so that prompt diagnosis and treatment with Vitamin K can be implemented.

Another common risk to pets during the holiday season is potential exposure to household plants and cleaning solutions.  As plants like mistletoe, poinsettia, azalea and holly are brought into our homes, curious pets that ingest the stems and leaves may suffer from digestive upset and vomiting.   Many cleaning solutions, including soaps, detergents, alcohols, and petroleum products also may cause vomiting and diarrhea, as well as organ damage if ingested. Christmas tree ornaments and gift wrapping with tinsel, string and ribbons all may cause stomach/intestinal blockages and must be kept out of reach of inquisitive pets.

The winter months are also a time of year when many will be changing antifreeze in their automobiles.  Ethylene glycol (found in many antifreeze products and snow globe gifts) has a sweet taste that is very attractive for animals, and if ingested even in small amounts may cause acute kidney failure.  Choosing antifreeze products that contain propylene glycol may be helpful in limiting potential ingestion.

As dogs and cats spend more time inside, it is also important to keep prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of reach to also prevent unwanted ingestion and exposure.  Finally, during the winter there is increased exposure to deicing salts used on sidewalks and in streets that may cause irritation to paws and/or digestive upset if ingested.  If there is any concern about possible exposure or ingestion to any household poisons, it is recommended that animal guardians contact their local veterinarian immediately, as well as 24-hour local and national poison control centers so that proper diagnosis and treatment can be implemented.

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