Tag Archives: toxicology

Product Warning

I’m passing this along on an ‘off’ day for the blog because I feel that it’s important to share this info . The EPA has issued a statement concerning the danger of certain flea control products to children that come into contact with them.

An Environmental Protection Agency report warns that propoxur, a flea-killing chemical in flea collars marketed by Sergeant’s Pet Care Products and Wellmark International, is unsafe for children. However, the products can be distributed until two years from now, and retailers can continue to sell them after that until their stock is gone. Veterinary dermatologist Daniel Morris says there are safer products available and urges owners to consult with their veterinarian to determine the best approach.

There’s a more detailed article at this link.

I’ll leave it to you, readers, to decide how you feel about it. Sound off in the comments! I’d like to hear what you think.


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Double Header: Spring Fitness and Human Medications

Double Header : Spring Fitness and Human Medications

I normally wouldn’t do a double-topic like this, but I need to get something off my chest. It’s very very rare that I yell with my white coat on. Today, though? Yes. I’ll be blunt and quick about it:



Lethal consequences can and do result. Major damage, hospitalization for treatment, and significant costs are also potential outcomes. I don’t know a single veterinarian that charges for phone calls, and at the very least you can be stopped from making a blunder that kills your own pet.

Alright. Deep breaths. With that out of the way, this week’s longer topic was suggested by one of my patients. (Thanks, Ellie!) Springtime is coming in tiny increments, so Ellie is looking forward to longer walks and better weather. She does have some joint trouble, so we talked about how much exercise is the right amount. In contrast to my yelling above, this answer has a lot more variability.

The tipping point between good exercise and bad has to do with the condition a given individual starts in. Young and healthy? Old and arthritic? Heart disease? Injury or surgical recovery? Out of shape or overweight?

Serious consequences can occur from overestimating what your pet can tolerate. Even for healthy dogs, going from zero exercise to a full day of hard activity can be a huge problem. When muscles aren’t used to the level of activity being asked of them, they can easily become overworked and damaged. Damaged muscle releases chemicals that can damage the kidneys. Pets enduring high temperatures can also have this sort of muscle damage, so even light exercise in hot weather can cause muscle damage.

Thankfully, the answers to a lot of these different cases are simple. We’ll tackle them one at a time.

Young healthy pets should take up a fitness program gradually. This means that if there were no walks at all, don’t make the first one hours long, and don’t make it a full-speed run. Somewhere in the neighborhood of activity 10-30 minutes long, in comfortable temperatures should be tolerated fairly well. Just as we would gradually increase the duration or intensity of the workout, you can do so with your pet. If at any point, your pet seems to be lagging behind, or has flat-out stopped, it’s time for a rest! Sometimes, pets are so excited to be playing or walking that they will push themselves far harder than they should. You have to make an assessment of a reasonable duration and intensity of the activity. Always err on the side of caution!

Pets with orthopedic problems such as hip dysplasia, a torn ACL, arthritis, etc. should always stick with low-impact activity. Running or even walking on hard pavement can be enough to make them sore or limp. For dogs, swimming — actually swimming, not running on the beach — is a great way to exercise. Otherwise, slow walks of shorter durations are a good idea. I’d rather have an arthritis patient go for two 10-minute walks than one 20-minute walk if it’s at all possible. Keeping up muscle strength and mobility is critical for arthritis patients. We also have a duty to keep them from hurting. This may mean that some pain medication or an anti-inflammatory are part of the whole care plan. Owners with pets that have advanced arthritis or other bone/joint problems can also look into physical therapy. There are tons of options for PT for pets.

For pets that have more serious conditions such as heart disease or other organ dysfunction, each case has to be very carefully evaluated. It would be irresponsible of me to make any blanket statements or generalizations here beyond the advice that you should ask your vet about your pet specifically. A mistake here could push a heart patient into heart failure, for example. Obviously that’s not a good option.

One last caution for all of you who own pets with short muzzles — the brachycephalic breeds. Exercise can be particularly difficult for brachycephalics. It can also be dangerous. These pets have a heck of a time breathing as it is, and the massive turbulence created when they’re breathing hard can cause life-threatening complications such as welling in the larynx. I’ve seen many bulldogs that come in dying because their throats are swelling shut. It’s particularly dangerous in hot weather. Pugs, bulldogs, Persian cats, ShihTzus — go VERY gently and go in cool temperatures!

In closing, I’ll share two links to other spots on the web with information about exercising with your pets. Thanks again, Ellie! This was a great topic to cover.

ASPCA Exercise Guidelines for Dogs

Hill’s/Science Diet Exercise Tips for Dogs and Cats

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Holiday Safety Tips

Today’s post is a list of links that share some Holiday Safety advice for you pets over Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even if you’re a well-seasoned pet owner, take a few minutes to watch and read. It’s good info!
AVMA Podcast on Holiday Safety

AVMA Youtube Video

7 things you can do to make the holidays safer for your pet

  1. Keep people food out of the reach of your pet and ask your guests to do the same;
  2. Make sure your pet doesn’t have any access to treats, especially those containing chocolate, xylitol, grapes/raisins, onions or other toxic foods;
  3. Don’t leave your pet alone in the room with lit candles, a decorated tree or potpourri;
  4. Keep holiday plants (especially holly, mistletoe and lillies) out of reach of pets;
  5. Consider leaving the tinsel off your tree if you have a cat;
  6. Secure your Christmas tree to keep it from falling over if your dog bumps it or your cat climbs it; hanging lemon-scented car air fresheners in the tree may deter your cat from climbing it;
  7. If your pet is excitable or scared when you have company, consider putting your pet in another room with some of his/her toys, a comfortable bed, etc. or providing a safe place for your pet to escape the excitement (such as a kennel, crate, perching place, scratching post shelf or hiding place)

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Mushroom Toxicity

We had a brief scare at work this week. An employee’s pet tried to scarf up some mushrooms in her yard, which led to a discussion of how awfully poisonous some mushrooms can be. Mushroom poisonings aren’t terribly common in our area, thankfully, but it’s something we always have to consider as a possibility when a pet comes in sick for no apparent reason.

Mushroom toxins can come in many forms. There are a LOT of toxic fungi out there! Rather than go through the whole list of stuff in excruciating detail, there’s a really simple rule. Don’t let your dog eat mushrooms outside.

The penalty for a mistake can mean death to a family pet. Liver failure, neurologic signs, coma, kidney failure, blood clotting disorders… need I say more? You can read more about mushroom poisoning syndromes at this link.

Here’s a link to a big PDF from the Michigan State Extension Service that details some of the poisonous mushrooms in Michigan, along with photos.

The one really awful group of mushrooms to watch out for is the Amanita family. They can be all-white (Destroying Angel) or have a red or yellow or brown cap. There’s a red-capped one shown below.

800px Amanita muscaria a

And, as a reminder about how toxic this mushroom is, check out the comic.

Amanita muscariaA4 1 copy

Amanita muscariaA4 2 copy

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Every 13 or 17 years, an insect called a cicada will emerge from a long sleep underground. It’s actually part of their life cycle to remain dormant for that long of a time. While this summer’s brood will not hatch in Michigan, there are cicadas that emerge each year in addition to the really big broods that hatch every 17 years. These are the bugs that make that really, really loud and long buzzing/humming noise every summer. They typically emerge in April, May, and June.

This article explains that they’re mostly harmless to pets; not toxic, don’t bite.

If you happen to see one, they’re both interesting and grotesque all at once.

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Review of Yard Toxins & Bee stings

Last May, I wrote a post about backyard toxins that pets could be exposed to. Now that we’ve had a good run of warm weather, I’d like to put up a link to that post to help remind everyone what to be cautious of.

Backyard Toxins and Hazards from May 2012

One of the things that I left off that list was bee/wasp/hornet stings. When a pet is stung by something, it’s called an envenomation. The venom comes from the stinger and an associated gland. It’s not really a bite (though some wasps/hornets can in fact bite). In the case of most bees, the sting means the death of the insect, too. Yellowjackets and wasps can sting multiple times.

The swelling and pain from the sting itself isn’t usually life-threatening. However, the sting can set off a massive allergic reaction that can be life-threatening. I highly encourage you to speak with your veterinarian about what you can do or give immediately after a sting. I can’t make a recommendation here on the blog for a medication or a dose for a medication, even if it’s OTC. Contact your vet and know ahead of time what to have on hand and what to do. It may save you a trip in to the vet’s office.

If your pet has been stung and the stinger is still in the skin, DO NOT grab it with fingers or tweezers. The little gland full of poison is like a sac on the end of the stinger. If you squeeze it when you’re trying to pull out the stinger, you’ll push more venom into your pet. Use a credit card or another piece of rigid cardboard or plastic to scrape the stinger out of the skin.

You can apply an ice pack. One of the sources I checked also said that a weak mix of baking soda and water may help decrease the pain.

If your pet shows weakness, difficulty breathing, or lots of swelling in places that were not stung, you need to see an emergency vet or your own vet immediately.

Be safe out there!

450px 3A wasp 2007 04 25

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Spring has been taking its time here in Michigan. We haven’t had much actual warm weather, but we will eventually. With the warmer weather, we’re going to see a whole host of springtime problems. I’d like to take some time to share a few precautions to help you avoid trouble this spring.

Vomiting and Diarrhea

I always see an uptick in vomiting and diarrhea cases in the spring. My suspicion is that when dogs are outside in the spring, there’s a lot of yard debris and mud. Both are interesting to smell and walk around in, so noses and feet come into contact with rotting plant material, animal feces, and melted snow. Dogs being dogs, they’ll take an opportunity to lick/eat something gross; or lick their feet after they’ve come inside. Whether it’s some kind of microorganism, or simply sickness from eating rotten stuff, GI upset is the end result. Thankfully, it’s generally easy to treat. Avoiding it is even better, though. Clean up the winter debris in the yard as soon as you can and try to wipe off your dog’s feet after they’ve been outside. I’d also like to encourage you to give us a call rather than waiting out vomiting/diarrhea for days and days. We can intervene earlier and get the GI upset controlled a lot sooner.


It’s early yet to see a lot of fleas and ticks, but they’ll be moving around soon after the weather warms consistently. Wild animals and stray dogs and cats are still warm bodies that can bring fleas into your yard or home. When cottages/cabins/vacation homes are opened up for the spring, too, any immature fleas left over from last summer can finish their life cycle very quickly and become adults that are -hungry-. Have your flea and tick topicals on your pets before you go!

Heartworm – Mosquitos

As soon as the weather has been over 57 degrees for a couple of weeks, mosquitos can start transmitting heartworm larva to dogs through their bites. We’ve been given some new information in the last year that indicates it may take more than one dose of prevention to clear out an infective bite that would otherwise give a dog heartworm disease. Missed doses (not just from owners forgetting) put dogs at higher risk. The FDA and the American Heartworm Society have recommended that all dogs be tested on a yearly basis, even if they get prevention year-round. If you’ve missed any doses at all, come in for a heartworm test so we can safely restart prevention for your dog. (Cats should be on prevention, too, even if they’re indoor only! We don’t routinely test cats, but they still get a monthly prevention.) For more information, check out heartwormsociety.org.

Other Outdoor Concerns

As you get out into the yard, be aware that some of our gardening and landscaping work can put pets at risk. Be sure to keep pets off the lawn when you’ve sprayed any liquid fertilizer/chemicals. Read the cautions with dry fertilizers/weedkillers, too. Cocoa bean hull mulch can cause a severe toxicity; any mulch can cause an intestinal obstruction if it’s eaten. Plants like lilies, ivy, palms, caladium and more are also toxic. Here’s a massive list of toxic plants put together by the ASPCA.

Even after all of those risks have been discussed, Spring is an incredible opportunity to get out and about with your dog. Break them in easy — a full day of high activity can be too much right at the start. Be smart, be careful and there’ll be plenty of opportunity to have fun!


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Pet Poison Hotline


We recently received a great notice from one of the pet insurance companies that our clients frequently use. The company announced that they are now providing a 24/7 Poison Helpline for pets that are exposed to toxins.

The website is huge and full of great information for pet owners. There’s a Poison List, a guide to pet safety, and much more.

There is also a hotline that you can call for help if your pet has ingested or has been exposed to something potentially harmful. There is a fee for using the hotline, but it’s a very manageable $39. (This is in comparison to the ASPCA Poison Control hotline, which charges $65.) Both resources are excellent and provide vets and owners assistance if an exposure has occurred.

The Pet Poison Helpline also has an app! If you’re an iPhone/iPad user, you can see the app here. It’s reasonably priced at $1.99. The app includes a list of poisons/toxic plants with pictures.

This is worth a look, pet owners! At the hospital, we work on accidental exposures pretty regularly — at least once a month a pet eats something it shouldn’t have. Human medications are right at the top of that list. Pills get dropped, or meds get mixed up, and in some cases that could have serious side effects for pets and/or owners.

From the Pet Poison Hotline web page, here’s a list of the top 10 human medications that are poisonous to pets:

  1. 1. NSAIDs — aspirin, ibuprofen, (Advil, Aleve, Motrin)

    2. Acetaminophen — Tylenol

    3. Antidepressants (Effexor, Cymbalta, Prozac, Lexapro) *

    4. ADD/ADHD Medications (Concerta, Adderall, Ritalin)

    5. Benzodiazepines and sleep aids (Xanax, Klonopin, Ambien, Lunesta) *

    6. Birth control (estrogen, estradiol, progesterone)

    7. ACE Inhibitors (Zestril, Altace)

    8. Beta-blockers (Tenormin, Toprol, Coreg)

    9. Thyroid hormones (Synthroid, Armour desiccated thyroid)

    10. Cholesterol meds (Lipitor, Zocor, Crestor) *

* Some of these medications may be prescribed for a pet by a veterinarian. However, if your pet eats any of these, call the veterinarian or the hotline right away! The dosages may be VERY different for pets as compared to people.

Does anyone have any questions about medications or toxins? Go take a look at the website. I bet you’ll find something you’ve got around the house that could be dangerous to your pets!

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Holiday Hazards

The holidays are coming on quickly. This time of year always presents some unique challenges for pets and owners. I’m hoping that a little forewarning will help you avoid some of the hazardous things that pets will encounter during the holiday season.


Changes in a pet’s diet — even just a small bite of something — can set off a cascade of nasty illness. While some dogs and cats seem to have an ironclad digestive system, most do not. They can’t tolerate foods outside their normal diet. New treats, canned foods they’re not used to, new foods, and “people food” can cause digestive distress. This distress usually means vomiting and/or diarrhea. However, inflammation of the pancreas can result (pancreatitis), and that can mean a hospital stay or even death. Please think twice about food gifts for pets. Advise guests that handouts aren’t acceptable (unless they’re from the pet’s usual treat jar). Even ONE bite of food can be enough to seriously harm a pet. Just don’t do it!! (PLEASE don’t give alcohol to your pets, either.)

Don’t forget about overtly toxic foods: onions, grapes, raisins, chocolate, bread dough, and the artificial sweetener xylitol.

748px Pumpkin Pie Slice


I think it’s great to provide enjoyable things for pets…as long as they’re pet-friendly. Remember the cautions we discussed with chew toys a while back. Watch out for objects that could cause pets to choke or have an intestinal obstruction. Kids’ toys can present an attractive chewing experience for a dog, so warn your children to pick up their new things.


I’m listing this separately because it’s so incredibly dangerous to pets. The fluid is very attractive to cats and dogs for some reason. They’ll readily lap it up. Even relatively small amounts can be enough to create toxic damage to the kidneys. By the time a pet’s kidneys are failing from ingestion of antifreeze, our treatment options are limited, and the prognosis is guarded. Some pets can recover, many will have permanent kidney damage, and some will die. There’s an antidote that can be given if the ingestion was recent enough, so if you see your pet lapping up antifreeze, GO TO THE HOSPITAL IMMEDIATELY.


Pets might not understand that certain holiday decorations aren’t for chewing. Young pets experiencing their first holiday season aren’t likely to realize that these new things are off limits, since they weren’t part of early training experiences. The usual suspects include: tinsel, lights, tree decorations, ribbons, bows, potpourri, and Christmas tree water with fertilizer. Cats seem to be especially fond of ribbon, which can cause a very very serious type of intestinal obstruction.

800px Tinsel 3


This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’d rather talk about the obvious than fail to provide the warning. Dogs and cats can suffer from hypothermia and frostbite. Thin or light-coated dogs will have more trouble keeping warm outside when the weather’s frigid. Sweaters or jackets will help if a pet is going to be outside for a while. The basic way to judge is to watch for shivering. Dogs shiver from the cold for the same reasons we do. Just be sensible about the amount of time your pets spend outside. Frostbite doesn’t seem to be that big a concern for dogs, but it is for cats, namely on their ears. If you have outdoor cats, provide a shelter and a heat source for them. The same goes for dogs.

Keep your pets off the ice on lakes, ponds, or other bodies of water. We’ve treated a few cases of near-drowning and hypothermia from dogs that wandered out of the yard and onto the ice, then fell through.

Be aware that outdoor cats will often crawl up into a car’s engine bay or wheel well to get heat from the engine. Check your vehicle before you drive away!

Some ice-melt products can be harmful if a pet’s feet come into contact with them. Don’t allow pets to eat the melt products, either.

655px Kö Hund mit Nerz Januar 2012

I know it must seem like I’ve taken all of the fun out of the holidays. (I promise it’s still more fun than having to come see me at the hospital!) Safely enjoying the time together isn’t hard. The warmth and companionship you provide is the best gift of all. Stick to the safest ways for your pets to have a good time: petting, playing, walks, and grooming.

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A Different Drop of Poison

Venomous reptiles may provide a good source for new drugs for human diseases, researchers in Liverpool say.

Venom has already been used to create drugs, but the chemicals in it are often too deadly for human consumption.
However, a study, published in the journal Nature Communications, has shown snakes and lizards have “reclaimed” some toxins and used them, safely, elsewhere in their own bodies.

Scientists think these reclaimed toxins could make safe and effective drugs.

Read the rest of the article here on the BBC.

512px King Cobra

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How much onion or garlic is toxic to pets?

I belong to an online community of veterinarians that is populated with some of the top experts in various areas of veterinary medicine.  They frequently share their expertise and advice.  I found this topic extremely relevant to our daily practice.

Human health supplements are more popular now than ever.  This has trickled into the pet market, too, especially with foods.  We do have to be careful about assuming that human health supplements are safe and/or effective for pets.  In some cases, they can be outright toxic.  We need to be certain that what we’re giving is ok to give.

The mini-essay below is from a toxicologist who is boarded by both the human and veterinary specialties.  She discusses how and why garlic and onions are on the “No” list in almost every case.

Unfortunately we are unable to respond to specific cases. Please call your veterinarian for more information or questions.

Garlic is more potent than onion; it takes about 5 g of garlic per kg of body weight to cause hemolysis in dogs. Cats are much more sensitive as they have more fragile RBCs. That sounds like a lot of garlic, and it is if you’re talking fresh garlic; but powdered garlic or onion are much more potent and more likely to cause toxicosis than fresh. Onion and garlic powder can be present in a lot of foods, but usually in very small amounts. Exceptions would be things like onion-flavored soup or gravy mixes and some baby foods, which can have considerably higher levels of onion/garlic. Cooked onions/garlic are hazardous because they are more concentrated than fresh and usually are highly flavored with what they were cooked with (e.g. liver and onions), so the animal is motivated to eat more of them. I believe the estimation for cats was less than a teaspoon of cooked liver and onions has caused clinical illness in cats. When inducing Heinz bodies for research studies, generally cats are given onion powder at the level of 1-3% of dry matter intake.

Onions/garlic are metabolized in the GI tract to highly reactive oxidative metabolites. ALL ingested garlic/onion will case some degree of hemolysis in dogs and cats–it’s only when sufficient RBCs have been damaged to alter the overall oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and/or to cause hemoglobinuria that the toxicosis becomes clinically evident.

So, does the small amount of garlic that is generally present in pet foods or yesterday’s beef stew cause RBC injury? Yes, but the level of injury is so low that clinically significant illness would not be expected. Some baby foods contain significant amounts of garlic/onion powder and can cause clinically relevant RBC injury if fed chronically to cats. I definitely do not recommend giving garlic tablets to cats or dogs because IF they have garlic in them, they will induce chronic anemia. That being said, most of the garlic tablets on the market that are labeled as “odor free” have had most/all of the organosulfoxides removed in the ‘deodorizing’ process, so would be less toxic. From a toxicity standpoint, I would say that the currently available flea control products when applied per label to the appropriate species are far safer than using garlic (which doesn’t work anyway) to control fleas or ticks.


Sharon Gwaltney-Brant DVM, PhD
Diplomate, American Board of Veterinary Toxicology
Diplomate, American Board of Toxicology


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Backyard Toxins & Hazards

With decent weather finally here on a consistent basis, I’m sure most of you are as busy as I’ve been cleaning up the yard and doing some gardening. I took a look around my backyard from a dog’s perspective and realized that there are a surprising number of things out there that could harm a dog if they were ingested. Given most dogs’ interest in chewing on things or eating things, I thought I’d provide a list of some common things that can be dangerously toxic to pets in the backyard.

Acorns & Oak Tree Parts

Acorns and leaves (or water in which these parts of the tree have soaked/rotted) can be toxic to dogs. Bloody diarrhea and kidney damage are the result of this ingestion. We’re not sure what chemical in the acorns and leaves is toxic.

Cocoa Bean Shell Mulch

This mulch is made from grinding up cocoa beans and other unused parts of the beans/plants. It can contain high levels of chemicals called theobromie and other methylxanthines. Caffeine is also a component. Vomiting, diarrhea, tremors/seizures, high blood pressure and high heart rate are signs of toxicity. Death can result from these signs.

Other types of Mulch

Eating mulch is a bad idea, but dogs show up at the hospital every summer having done so. The pieces can cause an obstruction in the intestines, vomiting, and diarrhea. I also saw a dog a few years back that had eaten a stick of some sort that passed through the GI tract but got wedged into the rectum sideways. This was excruciatingly painful for the dog. We had to anesthetize the dog and cut the stick in half to fish it out of the dog’s butt. No fun for any of us!


Many types of flowers are toxic. The toxins vary from tiny crystals that make the mouth painful or cause GI upset to toxins that damage the kidneys or heart or central nervous system. The ASPCA web page has a toxic plant guide. I’ll list some of the more common ones here: azalea, most bulbs, lilies, foxglove, hydrangea, morning glory seeds, rhododendron, garlic, onions, potato vines, green tomatoes or tomato plants, rhubarb leaves, yew bushes, palms, amanita mushrooms, rhubarb leaves, yew bushes/plants, lily of the valley, castor bean, and oleander. There are LOTS more, so don’t take this list to be comprehensive.
Tiger lily


I see a lot of diarrhea and vomiting from dogs that have consumed water from these sources. I’m not certain if a lot of that is due to parasites like giardia, duck or goose excrement, or something else. In any event, try to keep the dogs from guzzling water from your koi pond. Chemicals that are used to kill algae can also be toxic/dangerous.

Swimming Pools

Chemicals used in pools can be very strong acids or alkalis. These chemicals cause burns and tissue damage. If your pet has consumed pool chemicals, do not induce vomiting! What burns going down burns coming up. You’re best off to contact the vet for help and advice.

Landscaping Items

Landscape cloth, clays, sand, and rocks can all be issues for dogs and cats. Keep pets away from your landscaping projects until everything is finished. Better safe than sorry!

While it may seem that the yard is too dangerous for pets, simply watching them carefully can allow you and your dog or cat to enjoy the summer weather without any concerns. For dogs that simply can’t be stopped, a basket muzzle may be an option to prevent some ingestions.

Thanks for reading!

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A Little Drop of Poison

The majority of the time that we spend talking about toxicities, we’re assuming that a patient has ingested a large amount of something bad. While that’s the more common way for things to happen, we’ve had to deal with a fair number of low-quantity toxicities. Some medications/toxins are dangerous at small doses, infrequent doses, or a single dose.

By far, the most frequent issue we deal with is an NSAID. NSAIDs are “non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.” This class includes aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen, ketoprofen, and many others. Many of these medications are available over the counter for humans to use. They’re indicated for pain most commonly. A quick peek at Wikipedia cites a source with this frightening information: NSAID-associated upper gastrointestinal adverse events are estimated to result in 103,000 hospitalizations and 16,500 deaths per year in the United States, and represent 43% of drug-related emergency visits. Clearly, these medications are not to be taken lightly.

800px Ibuprofen 8330

We do use NSAIDs in veterinary practice. Thankfully, we have a variety of options that have been specifically developed for pets. While all NSAIDS (veterinary and human both) have potentially dangerous side effects, when they are given properly they’re considered safe. Monitoring is necessary to ensure that side effects are not occurring.

The crux of the post today is that human NSAIDS can be extremely toxic to pets. I’ve seen cases where a single Aleve (naproxen) or just 2 doses of ibuprofen have seriously and permanently damaged a dog’s kidneys. I’ve seen stomach ulcers caused by aspirin.

In many of these cases, owners were giving the medication with the best of intentions, to help their pets not be in pain. I can understand the desire to ease pain. What I can’t understand very well at all is the assumption that if it’s OK for people it must be OK for pets. This simply isn’t true!! Dogs and cats have some unique aspects to their physiology that make medications behave differently than they do in the human body. Sometimes this means we have to give more of a certain medication; others, far less nor none at all. Supplements are considered medications as far as I’m concerned. Anything holistic, naturopathic, herbal, traditional medicine, etc. should be considered with the same weight as a “drug.”

I wholeheartedly believe that we can, and should, consider our pets as family members. They’re children, albeit shaggier than their human siblings. What we can not and should not do is treat them as if they’re tiny humans. If we are going to adhere to the idea that we will do what’s best for our pets, giving them any medications/supplements/treatments at all without consulting a qualified veterinary professional is a bad idea. It may be a fatal mistake.

Very few things are as crushing to an owner as finding out that something that was done with the best of intentions is responsible for the death or severe illness of their pet.

I strongly encourage you to call us (or your regular vet!) if you are considering ANY product for your pet. I realize that resources are sometimes limited, so you may not always be able to come in for a consultation or appointment, but at the very least we can help you avoid a terrible mistake. It’s always best to call BEFORE starting a medication or supplement. There may not be much I can do if someone calls and says, “I’ve been giving Product X for the last week and Fluffy isn’t eating, now…”

My last comment from the soapbox today is to mention that even products “made for pets” can be dangerous. I’ve seen flea and tick prevention for dogs and cats cause serious toxicities even when used as directed. I’ve cruised the aisles at pet supply stores and seen huge bottles of aspirin for dogs on the shelf. I’ve seen supplements that contain things that I don’t think are beneficial at best (and dangerous at worst). The point here is that finding something in a pet store doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for your pet!
Mr yuk563
Thanks for reading! Up next on Thursday is a guest column written by one of our techs. She volunteered to do a post on “Whoops, my dog’s pregnant. Now what?” (Bonus points if you recognize the little face. A flashback from when I was far younger…)

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News : Jerky Treats for Dogs – 3 Brands Causing Illness

This article discusses the 3 most commonly implicated brands of treats associated with illness and/or death in over 600 dogs. It’s a hot topic! The article has gained almost 500 comments in 2 days.

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Chicken Jerky Treats from China Associated With Pet Illness

The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has issued a bulletin expressing concern about chicken treats imported from China. There was a problem back in 2007, but more recently there have been additional complaints filed by owners and veterinarians. The FDA is not sure why pets are getting sick from the treats, but the kinds of problems they are having can be very serious.

The FDA’s bulletin is below. I’ve made the most important points bold.

FDA Continues to Caution Dog Owners About Chicken Jerky Products
November 18, 2011

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is again cautioning consumers that chicken jerky products for dogs (also sold as chicken tenders, strips or treats) may be associated with illness in dogs. In the last 12 months, FDA has seen an increase in the number of complaints it received of dog illnesses associated with consumption of chicken jerky products imported from China. These complaints have been reported to FDA by dog owners and veterinarians.

FDA issued a cautionary warning regarding chicken jerky products to consumers in September 2007 and a Preliminary Animal Health Notification in December of 2008. After seeing the number of complaints received drop off during the latter part of 2009 and most of 2010, the FDA is once again seeing the number of complaints rise to the levels of concern that prompted release of our earlier warnings.

Chicken jerky products should not be substituted for a balanced diet and are intended to be fed occasionally in small quantities.

FDA is advising consumers who choose to feed their dogs chicken jerky products to watch their dogs closely for any or all of the following signs that may occur within hours to days of feeding the products: decreased appetite; decreased activity; vomiting; diarrhea, sometimes with blood; increased water consumption and/or increased urination. If the dog shows any of these signs, stop feeding the chicken jerky product. Owners should consult their veterinarian if signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure (increased urea nitrogen and creatinine). Urine tests may indicate Fanconi syndrome (increased glucose). Although most dogs appear to recover, some reports to the FDA have involved dogs that have died.

FDA, in addition to several animal health diagnostic laboratories in the U.S., is working to determine why these products are associated with illness in dogs. FDA’s Veterinary Laboratory Response Network (VLRN) is now available to support these animal health diagnostic laboratories. To date, scientists have not been able to determine a definitive cause for the reported illnesses. FDA continues extensive chemical and microbial testing but has not identified a contaminant.

The FDA continues to actively investigate the problem and its origin. Many of the illnesses reported may be the result of causes other than eating chicken jerky. Veterinarians and consumers alike should report cases of animal illness associated with pet foods to the FDA Consumer Complaint Coordinator in their state or go to http://www.fda.gov/petfoodcomplaints.


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