As we come up to Christmas it’s not as easy to keep as close an eye on your pet as you should around all of these seasonal treats and festivities going on. Unfortunately this leads to a sharp increase in poisonings at this time of year especially with certain things that crop up around the holidays, so we thought we would take the time to run through some common poisons that can be found in the home around now.
First though here is a list of every poison we will touch on in the article:
1. Antifreeze / De-icer
3. Onions, garlic, and other foods which are poisonous to dogs.
5. Yew branches, berries etc. holly
Now this is not a complete list of everything that could cause your pet harm from being eaten, it is just a list of the most common around this time of year and if you are in any doubt as to if what our pet has eaten is poisonous, the simple answer is to call us and we will be able to check for you.
1. Antifreeze is a fact of life for most of us over winter as most of us at some point will have to defrost our cars, however if you have a dog or a cat It should be stored very carefully and cleaned thoroughly if spilled. Because it has a sweet taste cats and dogs will happily drink what they can get hold of. Antifreeze is highly toxic to everything that drinks it, signs usually first appear within 30 minutes of ingestion but can take as long as 12 hours. Initial signs are vomiting, weakness and convulsions. From here there are heart and lung problems followed by what seems like a recovery but is closely followed by kidney failure. In the initial stages of poisoning treatment can be quite successful however if you pet has gone into renal failure the prognosis is a lot poorer. So if you think that your pet may have drunk Antifreeze contact us as soon as possible so we can catch it early and treat it more effectively.
2. Chocolate is always in plentiful supply around Christmas from advent calendars to chocolate tree decorations this can lead to lots of things your dog wants to eat but shouldn’t. Chocolate is toxic to dogs because of the chemical it contains theobromine this coupled with the fact that chocolate is commonly coupled with other toxic ingredients such as raisins and peanuts as well as coffee beans. This makes chocolate one of the most common poisonings that we see. Any amount of chocolate can cause adverse effects on your dog but the smaller the amount eaten the less severe the effect. What kind of chocolate it is makes a big difference as the darker the chocolate is the smaller amount is needed to have a big effect. Symptoms normally start to appear within the first four hours although it can take up to a day. Common symptoms include vomiting, drooling excessively and excitability. Less common more serious signs include tremors, muscle stiffness and a high temperature. So if your dog has eaten any chocolate call us and we will see them as soon as we can, because if we can begin treatment within four hours we minimise the absorption of the harmful chemicals. It can take as little a one square of dark chocolate to seriously harm a small dog so be careful where you hide the chocolate over Christmas.
3. Allium poisoning is caused by eating plants of the Allium (onion) family for example, Leeks, spring onions, garlic and onions. This is because all the plants in this family contain a variety of organosulphoxides. These chemicals within the plants can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains and anaemia. This is most common several days after ingestion but can happen within the first 24 hours. These chemicals have the most pronounced effect on Japanese or Korean breeds of dogs. The amount it takes to affect each dog varies greatly from dog to dog but the smaller the dog is the smaller the amount needed to affect them is. So if you think your dog has eaten any of these plants give us a call and we advise you on the next step.
4. It’s Christmas time so there are bound to be new toys and games that require batteries and sooner or later someone will drop a battery somewhere your dog can get hold of it. But what happens when your dog gets hold of the batteries. They have the potential to cause electrical burns and the chemicals inside the batteries can cause chemical burns. Smaller disc batteries have the potential to cause mercury intoxication. However these things are most likely to happen if the battery is damaged before being swallowed, intact batteries may pass through your dog harmlessly but there is a risk of it causing a blockage in the gut that will require surgery to remove. I you think that your dog may have eaten a battery give us a call and we will see what we can do to help. So keep track of your old batteries this Christmas.
5. Yew, mistletoe and holly are all common decorations around Christmas time but all are poisonous to your dog. Holly is only mildly poisonous and will most commonly cause vomiting, diarrhoea and drooling usually within three hours of eating the leaves or berries. SO if your dog has eaten any holly call us for advice.
Yew however is a more toxic to your pet every part of the plan contains a toxic substance called Taxine which causes vomiting diarrhoea, drooling, dilated pupils, lethargy, trembling and weakness. It can also cause hypothermia, breathing trouble, convulsions and a coma. Onset of symptoms from first exposure is usually within 6 hours. So if you find that your dog has eaten any yew call us as soon as you can (Ideally within four hours) so we can begin treatment and minimise the effect that the Taxine will have on them.
Mistletoe is mildly poisonous and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea if eaten but is rarely serious so if your pet eats mistletoe give us a call so we can advise you on the best course of action.
6. Grapes are also a common sight around Christmas time either fresh or dried and commonly found in Christmas cakes and puddings. The cause of the toxic effects of grapes is still a bit of a mystery but it bears no correlation between amount eaten and effect, so a single grape can have as much of an effect as a whole bunch. The only thing worth noting is the dried fruit have a greater effect than the fresh Grapes. Signs usually begin within 6 to 24 hours of ingestion and the most common signs are vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, bloody stool, weakness, lethargy and lack of urination. If your dog has any of these signs please contact us immediately so we can begin treatment as soon as possible. Ideally within four hours of ingestion of the grapes.
So remember this year to keep a close eye on your pets and make sure they have a safe and happy Christmas. If you have any worries that your pet may have eaten or drunk anything they shouldn’t, give as call as with any poison or foreign body it is easiest and most successful when treated early.
From all of us here at Hoylake Vets we wish you a safe and happy Christmas for you and your pets.