Most of us learned sometime ago that chocolate can be toxic to pets. So I could only imagine how frightening it was when a friend called to tell me she’d been gone most of the day and when she got back home she saw an empty box that had contained chocolate candy torn apart and lying on her dining room floor.
She said she’d immediately rushed the culprit — her family dog — to her veterinarian.
Fortunately, the dog had minor ill affects. Luckily, the chocolate he’d eaten was light in color. The American Poison Control Center explains that the darker the chocolate, the worse the poisoning can be for dogs who ingest it.
Signs of chocolate poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, high heart rate, tremors and death, according to the experts. Cats, they add, do not often have the same “sweet tooth” for chocolate that many people and dogs have.
Yet, chocolate poisoning in pets is not the 2012 top-ranked poison reported to A.P.P.C.
(1) Human prescription medications rank at the top of this potentially deadly list. Pet owners are urged to: store and take medicines in a place away from pets; keep medication containers far out of pets’ reach; and to store their own medicines and their pets’ medications in separate places.
(2) Insecticides ranked second on the danger list. Pet owners are urged to carefully read labels before using insecticides in yards and indoors. Also, it is vital to make sure that products labeled for dogs are not also used on cats and vice versa.
(3) ”Over-the counter” medications rank third in reported pet poisonings to A.P.P.C. with ibuprofen the most common human medicine ingested by pets. Also high on the toxic substances consumed by pets is Vitamin D. Pets are reportedly often attracted to these substances due to their chocolaty and other type flavorings.
These items are labeled “pet killers.” The pet’s veterinarian should always be consulted before any medicines are administered.
(4) Veterinary medications made in chewable form are “a double-edged sword,” the A.P.P.C. emphasizes because they taste good and can be attractive to pets. Toxicity can easily occur. For example, collie-type breeds cannot tolerate the heartworm preventive ivermectin. Keeping pets separate from each other when medications are administered and keeping pet medicines high out of their reach are major safety measures that need to always be observed.
(5) In 2012 the A.P.P.C. reported receiving some l0,000 calls about pet poisoning from ingesting of cleaning products, laundry detergents, polyurethane glues and similar items.
(6) Human Foods, other than chocolate, that are dangerous for pets to consume include: sugar-free products such as gums, baked goods, candies and mints. Grapes, raisins and garlic along with moldy foods can cause all types of serious problems requiring immediate veterinary attention.
(7) Chocolate poisoning in pets resulted in 8,575 calls to A.P.P.C. in 2012 at the rate of “about 25.5 calls a day.”
(8) Plants that are dangerous for pets to consume include, at the top of the list, two houseplants, Dieffenbachia and Philodendron. Outdoor plants most dangerous to dogs and cats are said to be lilies and sago palms.
(9) - Rodenticides are meant to kill rats and mice. They are deadly to dogs, cats, other mammals and birds. While using rodenticides is a huge danger to many yard residents and visitors, if they are ever used the labels should be saved because “many baits look identical but cause very different clinic signs.”
(10) Lawn & garden products, including fertilizers, herbicides and snail/slug bait can have fatal consequences if consumed by pets. Rather than becoming obsessed with a boring, perfect green lawn, keeping pets healthy with “a colorful, interesting lawn,” is strongly urged.
For more information about poison prevention in pets, review the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals website: aspca.org/oet-care/poison-control, and please spread the word!
Paws up this week to: Bill Edwards of Benton for his report on the two red-headed woodpeckers apparently nesting in his yard and also about the pileated woodpeckers he frequently sees on mountain hikes; to Rona Mills of La June Dress Salon; April Foster; Sheila Stubbs; Lois Crawford; Angela Cornett; and all who adopted a forever pet from the Cleveland Animal Shelter with the promise of providing a long, wonderful life.
To reach the municipal shelter, call 479-2122.
Call me with your pet and wildlife stories, 728-5414 or write to: P.O. Box 4864, Cleveland, TN 37320.