The Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) is a common holiday plant that comes from the coastal mountains of Brazil.
This plant is generally not considered toxic to pets, but ingestion can cause vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia and depression.
In the fall and winter, mice and rats are looking for a warm place to live, and many home owners use poisonous baits to prevent this. The most common type of rodent baits are anticoagulants (which means they prevent blood from clotting) and they can be toxic to our pets as well.
If you don’t use the baits yourself, be aware that roaming dogs can be attracted to baits left out on a neighbor’s property and rodents have been known to drag baits into new locations. They often look like blocks of coloured waxy material, but can also be in granular form and have a taste and smell that is attractive to pets as well as to rodents.
These pesticides interfere with blood clotting by causing a deficiency of Vitamin K. Once the vitamin K present in the body is depleted, blood cannot clot properly and internal bleeding starts. You often will not see any signs of blood loss externally, but rather you may see lethargy, a cough, lameness, pale gums or even sudden collapse.
The best treatment for anticoagulant poisoning is to prevent it, the next is to treat as soon after ingestion as possible. We generally treat by inducing vomiting and then giving activated charcoal to prevent absorption. Most pets are then treated with Vitamin K given by mouth for a time depending on the active ingredient of the product. Blood tests may be done to assess clotting. If the exposure is not seen, but the pet becomes very ill, blood transfusions may be necessary.
If you have a pest service, make sure that you get and understand the detailed information about the products that they are using and where they are putting them.
We often share our leftovers with our pets, and they will go to great lengths to find something edible in the trash or even in a compost pile.
Be careful about the leftovers you offer. Steer clear of grapes, raisins, onions and chocolate. Also be careful about offering high fat or processed foods. High fat and highly processed meals can cause gastrointestinal upset and pancreatitis, which may require hospitalization. In some households, visitors can be the culprits and it may be better to keep your pets confined while your guests are eating.
Be sure to keep the trash secure from your pets. Any type of leftovers, food wrappers or accessories such as cocktail toothpicks can be attractive to a prowling dog or cat. Some of these non-digestible items would require emergency surgery.
Compost contains many active fungal and bacterial organisms that can cause intoxication, tremors and even seizures. Dogs will eat compost if given the chance, so remember to prevent access to your compost pile and bucket.
When your household is more hectic and active this time of year, there may be visitors who are not aware of these safety tips — be sure to look at your kitchen from a pet’s point of view during and after an event or party.
Cats are very sensitive to some of the lilies including Easter lilies, tiger lilies, Japanese show lilies, rubrum lilies, many lily hybrids and day lilies. All parts of these plants are toxic, and if a cat eats as little as one leaf, it can cause fatal kidney failure.
The toxic action of these plants is not fully known, but results in vomiting, anorexia and depression with a few hours. Within 18 hours, kidney failure is apparent and is often not reversible.
Immediate aggressive treatment by a veterinarian is necessary if your cat has eaten any part of a lily plant. If you have a young or curious cat, you may want to consider whether to have one of these plants in your home at all.
From myself, my family, and the team at Richmond Veterinary Clinic, thank you to our clients, our patients and our community.
We have the pleasure and honour of serving you, caring for your pets and helping in the community.
Thanks to your generosity, we have been able to serve the Lennox & Addington SPCA and the Kingston Humane Society. You have also helped us to make donations to the Farley Foundation, Pet Trust and our in-house benevolent fund.
We are blessed to be a part of the Napanee community.
|Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
When you are planning your holiday celebrations, remember to think about some of the items that can be mistaken for playthings or foods by our pets.
Small toys and toy parts can be swallowed accidentally by cats or dogs. These parts can have sharp edges that cause damage to the stomach and intestines, or they can become lodged in the stomach or intestines.
Batteries contain corrosives that can cause gastrointestinal irritation. I know of a Labrador Retriever who tended to wait beside any counter or table hoping for a tidbit to drop. He gulped up and swallowed 2 D cell batteries that were dropped before anyone could react, and surgery was required to remove them.
Silica gel packs come packed with shoes, electronics, medications and some foods. These little packages make a rustling sound and can be easily batted around by cats. If they are swallowed, the most common result is mild gastrointestinal upset, but a large amount of the silica gel can cause severe diarrhea.
Often we will have electric cords out for holiday decorations and light display. Remember that these cords can pose an electrocution hazard for pets. It is safest to keep cords covered or hidden from pets.
Dogs and cats can get alcohol poisoning if they ingest too much alcohol. The most common scenario is that a pet will drink an alcoholic beverage with sweeteners in it, like punch or cocktails left out after a party. With their small body size, even a small amount ingested can cause significant problems.
Signs will become apparent within 15-30 minutes after ingestion on an empty stomach, and 1-2 hours on a full stomach. You can see neurological signs such as staggering or excitement, accompanied by an increase in thirst and urination. In severe cases, these pets need emergency treatment in the hospital. The good news is that recovery usually occurs within 8-12 hours.
Remember that bread dough, medications and toiletries (such as liquid cough syrup or mouthwash) can all contain enough ethanol to cause problems for a pet who drinks or eats these items.
Think about where your alcohol-containing items will be this holiday season, and be sure to prevent access by your pets.
Pets can be exposed to ice melts that have been spilled, applied to sidewalks or stored improperly. There are many brands of ice melts on the market, containing active ingredients such as sodium chloride (salt), potassium chloride, magnesium chloride, calcium carbonate, calcium magnesium acetate or urea.
It is a good idea to wipe your dog’s paws off with a moist cloth after coming indoors from a walk on winter sidewalks or roads. The amount a dog could lick off from a walk outdoors is not likely to cause any severe problems, but all of these products have the potential to cause skin irritation and mild stomach or intestinal upset.
Salt-containing snow melts can cause sodium toxicosis. As little as a few tablespoons of some products could be fatal to a small dog or cat. Sodium toxicosis can cause vomiting, increased urination and neurological signs such as tremors and seizures.
Potassium and magnesium containing products can cause muscle weakness, gastrointestinal upset and heart rhythm abnormalities.
The calcium-containing melts are more irritating than toxic, and will likely cause stomach upset.
Urea containing melts can cause local irritation, resulting in drooling, stomach and intestinal upset and abdominal pain. In more severe cases, weakness and tremors can be seen.
Read the label on your snow melt products, and store them somewhere that pets would not have access to them.