There are many types of plants that can be toxic to cats and dogs. One of the most toxic (and common) plants that causes toxic problems for cats are lilies. Easter, Japanese, Stargazer, Tiger, and Day Lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis spp.) are all toxic to cats. Every part of the plant, including the pollen, can be toxic. If treatment is not started early, there is a high rate of mortality associated with this plant. The exact mechanism for toxicity is not currently known, but we do know that the tubular cells in the kidneys are damaged after ingestion of these plants which leads to renal failure. Treatment involves making a cat vomit the plant pieces and then administering a decontamination agent (usually activated charcoal). Intravenous fluids are then necessary for at least two days to ensure that the kidneys are minimally damaged by the toxin. Even with treatment, some cats will have permanent damage to their kidneys, so prevention is key to keeping cats safe from this toxin!
While out celebrating Independence Day this year, make sure to keep your holiday celebration safe for both you and your pets! Fireworks can be very dangerous for pets (especially dogs) to be around while they are being used. Injuries and burns to the mouth, eyes, and paws are common with fireworks, so keep your pets safely inside or in a secure area when using these items. Fireworks can also be toxic if ingested in either the lit or unlit state. Fireworks use many different metals such as iron, copper, barium, mercury, phosphorus, and magnesium to give the bright, colorful lights everyone loves, but these same metals can cause heavy metal poisoning in our pets if ingested. There are many possible symptoms of this condition - vomiting, diarrhea, tremors, and seizures tend to be the most common of these. Treatment for heavy metal poisoning varies, but most of the time there is no specific antidote and supportive care is all that is available. Dogs and cats should be kept indoors as much as possible or kept on a leash if they must go outside during this holiday. Even the normally well behaved pets may be very scared around fireworks due to the loud noises and light, so please keep your pets safely away from your fireworks this Fourth of July!
With the warm weather this summer, it’s probably tempting to cool off by taking a relaxing swim in one of our many local lakes. You may even want to bring the dog along to let him cool off and enjoy the day! This can be a great way to relax, but what about all that slimy green stuff in the water? Is it safe? The answer unfortunately is less clear than that water. Part of what causes the green color in the water is due to cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. Some species of blue-green algae can produce powerful toxins under the right set of conditions, but knowing whether these species are present and whether or not they are producing these toxins is impossible. For the most part, these toxins are most commonly produced in lakes and ponds with heavy run-off from fertilized soil on warm, sunny days in late summer or early fall.
The type of toxin varies with the species of blue-green algae producing it, but in general, these toxins will lead to rapid, severe liver damage, neurologic damage, or gastrointestinal distress. An animal that ingests these toxins may show a number of problems. Common signs may include weakness, abnormal behavior, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures or collapse. Unfortunately, these toxins usually lead to death within a few hours or days. If there is a known ingestion, decontamination by inducing vomiting and administering a decontaminating agent may be beneficial in reducing the effects of the toxin, but the effects of the toxin can be very quick – sometimes in as little as 20 minutes.
In addition to making your pets sick, blue-green algae can also make YOU sick. Remember, if the water looks like it has a lot of murky green algae growing in it, it is probably not worth swimming there. Don’t let blue-green algae put a damper on your summer fun though. One of the nice things about living in Wisconsin is there are always other lakes to try!
Fleas can be a major nuisance for pet owners, especially because the problem is not often noticed until there are literally hundreds of adult fleas on a pet. Just as numerous as the fleas you see are the number of options available for flea control. There are sprays, powders, shampoos, and liquids – and all of these in a multitude of brand names to choose from! Pet owners should be aware that not all of these flea preventatives and treatments are equal. A number of the chemicals used in some of these products such as organophosphates, carbamates, and pyrethrins/permethrins can be toxic under certain circumstances.
A toxic exposure can occur if these products are used incorrectly or excessively, accidentally ingested, or possibly just because your pet is sensitive to the medication (especially cats). This is why it is important to use the correct product for your pet’s species and weight. Dog products should NEVER be used on cats! Signs of toxicity may include depression or excitability, salivation, muscle tremors, staggering, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, or skin irritation/damage.
Treatment depends on exactly what product was used, but this will usually include decontamination, supportive care, and bathing if the product was used on the skin. For some of these products, an antidote called atropine may be given to reverse the toxic effects of the flea preventative. In addition to the possibility of these products causing your pets harm, they can also be toxic to people – and especially children – due to exposure to residues in the animal’s fur or from ingesting the products themselves.
Many of the chemicals used in today’s flea medications are newer variations of older chemicals, so the label may have a different name than one of the chemicals listed above. If you have any questions or concerns about flea control or treatment for your pet, please contact us! We would be more than happy to help find you a safe and effective flea control option!
It has been a relatively mild winter so far this year, but even so, ice and snow are always right around the corner waiting to make roadways and sidewalks a slippery mess. Many homeowners and business owners turn to commercial ice melt products around this time to reduce the dangers of ice-covered pavement. But remember when you use these products, your dog has probably been watching you through the windows and is very eager to try all the new little treats that you’ve been scattering over the ice.
Most ice melt products contain a combination of chemicals such as sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and calcium salts. These salts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, increased salivation, disorientation, or even death if ingested and local irritation if on the skin. Even dogs that are not interested in eating the ice melt may accidentally ingest the product if it sticks to their feet after going outside and later lick their feet to clean them.
Several precautions can be taken to keep your pets safe while also keeping yourself safe from ice. Ice melts should be kept in a sealed container to prevent your pet from eating the granules directly out of the bag. If your pet goes outside where there is ice melt, be sure to watch that they do not eat snow, ice, or the granules themselves, and when they come back inside, rinse your dog’s feet with warm water to quickly and easily remove the salt. In addition, there are now “pet safe” ice melt products available that are generally urea-based instead of the normal salt base. While safer, these products can also be toxic in high amounts. When in doubt about a particular ice melt, it is always better to be safe than sorry!