Our pets share our homes and our lives, yet there are some hazards in our daily environment that can pose potential dangers for our pets. Here is a short, albeit incomplete, list from Dr. Suzanne Dempsey, Head of Emergency and Critical Care at The Center for Animal Referral & Emergency Services (CARES). If you have a concern or question, you should call CARES or your primary veterinarian for additional recommendations or information. Additionally, if you are concerned about possible toxin exposure, please immediately call the ASPCA Poison Control Center (1-888-426-4435) to be advised further.
- Human medications. While medications are dispensed to us and are generally considered safe, the dose and side effects of drugs and the way different drugs are metabolized can vary greatly among species. It is not uncommon for pets to present to the emergency service after eating human medications that have been dropped on the floor or after chewing through a pill bottle and eating the contents. Sometimes there is no treatment necessary, while other times, pets have to be hospitalized, treated for toxic effects of the medication, and monitored for consequences of their exposure.
- Motor vehicles. Aside from getting hit by a car, pets can get into all sorts of trouble in or around our cars. In the winter, some outdoor cats crawl up into the engine to keep warm and can get badly injured. Pets left unattended in cars, can easily overheat, even if the windows are cracked. Dogs jump out of truck beds injuring themselves, and cats and dogs can distract their human drivers leading to accidents, particularly if they do not stay out of our laps or line-of-sight as we drive.
- Human foods. Most of the time, the things we eat are safe for our pets, but there are some things we eat that are toxic to our pets, and their stomachs are often more sensitive than we expect. Raisins, grapes, sugar-free chewing gum, and chocolate are among the more commonly recognized foods that are not safe for our pets with the potential for severe effects such as organ failure or seizures. Most of the time, it comes down to a matter of how much they ate, how much they weigh, and their general health, but with some toxins, even small amounts have the potential for harm. Dogs and cats often present for vomiting and diarrhea after eating human foods, and the simplest way to avoid such situations is to limit their diet to dog and cat food, or ask your veterinarian what foods are safe.
- Objects they find interesting enough to put in their mouths or swallow. We often do not think to pet-proof our homes like we child-proof them, but some animals really love to eat things around the house. Pets can suffer electrocution if they chew on plugged in power cords, and they can require endoscopy or surgery to remove foreign material they have eaten. Below is a short list of some of the things pets eat that often require endoscopy or surgery to remove.
- Socks, underwear and other articles of clothing
- Corn cobs, peach/plum pits and acorns
- Needles and thread, tinsel and yarn
- Expanding wood glues
- Wooden barbeque skewers, sticks, and bones
- Pacifiers and feminine products
- Even some household plants and flowers can cause problems. Of most concern are certain lilies. Commonly used in flower arrangements, any part of some species of lilies, from the pollen to the petals to the leaves can cause kidney failure in cats, so keep these lilies out of their environment.
About The Center for Animal Referral & Emergency Services (CARES): CARES is a full service specialty referral, 24-hour emergency and critical care veterinary hospital, with one clear goal: to provide a gold standard of care for your pet. Our highly trained, hand selected and compassionate team of veterinarians pride themselves in collaboration between the CARES specialties as well as the referring veterinarian. By engaging multiple, dedicated professionals in the care of your pet, CARES provides the latest, most advanced and best treatments available. Specialty and referral services include: Anesthesiology, The Cancer Center at CARES, Cardiology, Clinical Pathology, Internal Medicine, Neurology, Ophthalmology, Radiology and Surgery. Specialty cases are seen by referral from the primary care veterinarian. CARES also offers 24-hour emergency care. For more information, visit www.vetcares.com. You can also find CARES on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/CARESvet.