Pet Poison Awareness

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There are many common household goods and human habits that can harm pets. Dr. Michael Ciepluch, lecturer at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, explained how to protect your pet’s health.

One frequent source of pet toxicity is exposure to common human foods that are toxic to pets, such as grapes, raisins, onions, and related plants such as chives, shallots, and garlic. Sugar-free gum, or any other food containing the sweetener xylitol, also can be poisonous. Other worrisome household items include antifreeze and decorative plants such as Sago palm and lilies.

Additionally, Ciepluch reminded pet owners that it is not safe to treat your pet with over-the-counter pain relievers. If your pet needs treatment for pain, Ciepluch said to consult your veterinarian for pain medications that have been approved for use in pets by the FDA.

“If you are ever in doubt, call your veterinarian or a local emergency veterinary clinic,” Ciepluch said.

Ciepluch also recommended pet owners to The American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) website (ASPCA.org) for a list of toxic foods, plants, medications, and other substances. The ASPCA also has as an app that allows pet owners to search toxicities by category for basic information. In the case of an emergency, the ASPCA has a 24-hour Poison Control Hotline that can be reached at (888) 426-4435.

Though the consequences of smoking were not given much thought in the past, doctors and researchers began identifying a strong association with smoking and certain cancers in humans, causing a wave of concern in recent generations. In addition to harming humans, secondhand smoke can contribute to the development of many diseases in pets.

“Inhaled irritants—such as cigarette smoke, aerosol sprays, and perfumes—can contribute to the development of chronic bronchial disease in pets,” Ciepluch said. “This disease is similar to asthma and requires lifelong medication. Cigarette smoke also contains carcinogens, substances that can cause cancer.”

Additionally, Ciepluch said recent veterinary studies have identified a higher risk of certain cancers in pets living in smoking households compared to non-smoking households. Nicotine exposure in pets also has become more prevalent with the growth in popularity of E-cigarettes and vaping.

“Bottom line: don’t expose your pet to secondhand smoke,” Ciepluch said.

Alcoholic beverages can also cause health concerns for pets. It is best to keep alcoholic beverages out of your animal’s reach.

“Clinical signs of alcohol toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, abnormal blood acidity, coma, and even death,” Ciepluch said.

Pet health is a reflection of the care pets are given. The safety of your pets relies entirely on the actions of owners and the choices you make. As always, consult your veterinarian if you have any concern for your pet’s health.

Pet Talk is a service of the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, Texas A&M University

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