May 04 2016

Outdoor Toxins

As we enjoy the warmer weather this summer, we also allow our pets much more freedom outdoors.  With this extra freedom, some pets may get themselves into harmful situations that require immediate treatment.  Though there are many potential hazards outdoors, this blog will focus only on outdoor toxins.

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Poisonous Plants:
Some of the more common toxicities involve the Azalea, Autumn Crocus, Daffodil Bulbs, Hyacinth/Tulip Bulbs, Lilies, Oleander and Sago Palm and many more.  Though toxic plants typically cause mild to moderate gastrointestinal signs (like vomiting and diarrhea), ingestion of some can cause much more serious effects.  In severe cases, plant ingestion can cause liver and kidney damage, gastrointestinal bleeding, difficulty breathing, heart complications and even death.  When selecting plants for your home or garden, consult the ASPCA Poisonous Plants List at to ensure that what you choose is safe for your pets.

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Garden Hazards:
Rodent, snail and slug baits are highly toxic and can be fatal.  Rat poison is one of the most commonly seen toxicity cases and can cause sudden, severe problems with clotting the blood.  Bone meal, often used as a garden fertilizer, is very tasty to dogs.  However, it can clump together in the intestinal tract, causing a concrete-like obstruction.  Once an obstruction occurs, surgery is typically required to resolve the blockage.  Insecticides are typically not severely toxic to animals, but can cause some significant gastrointestinal irritation.  Some fertilizers, especially those including organophosphates can cause serious effects, including neurologic signs, difficulty breathing and even death.

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Antifreeze Poisoning:
Ethylene glycol is the toxic ingredient found in antifreeze.  Pets find antifreeze enticing, because of the sweet taste, but ingestion of the compound quickly leads to kidney failure and death.  Cats are especially sensitive to the effects, even if only a very small amount (less than a teaspoon) is ingested.  The tricky part of ethylene glycol toxicity is that your pet may act “drunk” for the first few hours, but then appears to recover and may appear normal for several hours, before progressing into potentially irreversible kidney failure, coma and death.  If you think you pet may have ingested antifreeze, please have them seen by a veterinarian as soon as possible, even if they appear to recover.  Time is the crucial factor in the treatment of this toxicity!

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There is a multitude of potentially toxic materials that your pet may be exposed to while outdoors.  If you think that your pet may have ingested something potentially toxic, the best step is to have them evaluated by a veterinarian as soon as possible.  Often, the veterinarian may recommend a consultation with the Animal Poison Control hotline, which gives case-by-case recommendations for a small fee.

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