As any vet or nurse can tell you, some of the most common reasons that pets are rushed to the emergency are because of poisonings. However, a lot of these poisonings are avoidable and most of them happen at home. Read on for a guide on what to do if you notice signs of poisoning in your pet.
Where poisonings can happen
According to studies around the world, the biggest source of toxins and poisons to animals is inside the home. This is especially common during special occasions and holidays, such as birthdays or Christmas, during which foods that are harmful to cats and dogs are left out in the open. This increases the chances of them being consumed by a curious pet, which can result in poisonings.
In some parts of the world, people leave out poisoned meat to cull the stray populations of cats, dogs, and other animals. This unethical procedure doesn’t just harm the strays, however. When pet dogs are taken out for a walk, they too can happen upon the poisoned meat and eat it by mistake.
Signs that your pet is poisoned
If you are going to be effective at giving your pet the right treatment at the right time, you should know what the symptoms of poisoning are. Be on the lookout for them constantly. If you notice these earlier, you could potentially save the animal’s life. Some of these signs have been given below. Please note that you may only see a few of these symptoms, depending on the degree of the problem and kind of poison.
- Respiratory problems, coughing, sneezing, and difficulty breathing.
- Vomiting and diarrhea as a result of infection of the gut.
- Neurological symptoms such as lack of balance and coordination.
- Seizures, tremors, or trepidation in the muscles, along with spasms.
- Responses like dilated pupils and abnormally high heart beat.
- Scratching, itching, and licking of one or more parts of the body.
- Bleeding from the skin or formation of ulcers or rashes.
- Foaming at the mouth, salivating excessively, as well gagging.
What you should do
It is a good idea to know what your vet’s timings are beforehand, along with vet services that are open throughout the day. Reach out to them immediately, and try and figure out what exactly it was that caused the symptoms of poisoning. If it is contact based, try and remove it at once, and if it is based on inhalation, let your pet have access to clean air.
A common response by pet owners is to try and induce vomiting. This can be very dangerous in the case of some poisons, so do not induce vomiting unless you have been instructed to do so by your vet. Take your pet immediately to the nearest vet and allow them to continue treatment as needed.
If you know what the poison was, take note of it at once. If you have suspicions, you should make sure you take some samples of it with you to the vet. You can also collect some of the vomit in a bag along with you so that the vet can identify the poison.
Inducing vomiting at home
If you have to induce vomiting at home, use a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide (do not use any other concentrations as they can be dangerous). Administer the hydrogen peroxide by giving your dog 1 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of their weight. One teaspoon is roughly about 5 ml of hydrogen peroxide.
After this, wait for at least 20 to 25 minutes. If the dog does not vomit at this time, you can administer the hydrogen peroxide at least one more time. If the method still doesn’t work, do not administer again. Inform your vet immediately. Only induce vomiting if it has been recommended by the vet. If not, as mentioned above, this can cause serious damage to your dog’s lungs and can be fatal.
What to expect at the vet’s
If you know what the poison was, the vet can start treatment at once. This will probably include the administration of an anti-toxin. However, unless you saw your pet ingest something, you can never be sure what the poison was. If they do not know the poison, however, the vet will try and maintain the symptoms and hope that the body will eventually metabolize and remove the poisonous substance.
Vomiting can be induced in the case of the dog swallowing medications. However, in some other cases, such as the ingestion of petroleum products, vomiting can do more harm than benefit. This can cause the vomit (containing the offensive compound) to enter the lungs, where it can cause additional, life-threatening infections.
Your best shot at keeping your pet safe will be to use prevention-based methods to make sure that your pet never accesses these compounds in the first place.
- If you have cleaning supplies at home, in places such as the bathroom or the garage, you can either restrict access to that room or keep them in places where your pets can’t reach them, e.g. in locked cupboards.
- If you are cleaning at home, keep your pets away or in another room. Never allow them to walk around while your chemicals are easy to access.
- Avoid keeping plants that are detrimental to pets inside the home. If you let the pets go outside, avoid growing them outside the home as well.
- Learn to identify poisonous plants as well. If you know which plants can cause poisonous symptoms, you can keep your dogs away from them during walks.
- Never, under any circumstances, allow pets to have access to yours or their own medicines. Keep them labeled so you always know which one is which.
- Keep an eye out for your pet at all times.
- Do not allow your dog to eat anything when you take him or her out for a walk. Use a leash to make sure you have control during this time.
- You can also try out keeping treats in your pocket to distract the dog from eating things on the side of the road.
Things that can cause animal poisoning
In addition to the above prevention methods, you should also be careful of the following substances, which can become a cause for poisoning.
There are foods that are poisonous, such as onions, chocolates, an artificial sweetener named as xylitol, and caffeine. In addition to this, you should avoid giving your pet avocados, dough, grapes, and garlic.
If you use the wrong products on the wrong pet, you may notice skin irritation. Along with this, keep an eye out for contact with tar, paint, nettles, and cleaning chemicals that are used for cleaning the house.
Your pets won’t be happy if they nibble on or ingest ivy plants, along with tulips, lilies, mistletoe, oaks, and much more. You should also keep mushrooms and hemlock away.
Poisons that can be swallowed or inhaled
Just like with humans, pets are harmed by the inhalation of smoke and paint fumes. Next, please make sure that the pet is kept away from chemicals that it can swallow, such as rat poisons and cleaning equipment.