Protect Your Pet From Summer Poisons
Summer is a great time for get-togethers, vacation travel, and outdoor activities and pets are often included in these activities. Here is some advice from the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association to help keep your pet safe this summer and away from often overlooked sources of summer poisons.
- Coolants, antifreeze, radiator fluid – these substances are poisonous and often lethal. Pets love the sweet taste of antifreeze but the consequences can be deadly. If you keep antifreeze in the garage, consider purchasing a pet friendly brand in case it spills and your pet comes into contact with it. Since neighbors may not be as careful, do not allow your pet to lick anything from driveways or roadways. Ingesting even a teaspoon of some of these substances can lead to a serious emergency. Contact your veterinarian immediately.
- Mulch- A new mulch has hit the stands this summer, cocoa mulch. This is mulch that is made from the hulls of the Cocoa bean. It is a by-product of the chocolate industry. Unfortunately, like chocolate, cocoa mulch contains theobromine and caffeine, substances that are toxic to dogs. Actually, the mulch has a higher content of these poisons than chocolate itself, and even a small amount can cause gastrointestinal problems, neuromuscular problems, and death.
- Fertilizer – Pets come in contact with anything that you spray or spread on your property. Most fertilizers will cause severe stomach upset if your pet licks or eats the grass or plants, or even while cleaning themselves after walking on the property. Make sure that you read the label on what ever you put down, and check how long you must wait before allowing pets to come into contact with treated areas.
- Insecticides -- Trying to get rid of ticks and fleas on your pet? Be careful not to mix products together. Don't use a topical flea killer and then shampoo with a flea and tick shampoo. It is easy to overdose pets, especially cats with even the mildest insecticides. Never use human or household bug sprays on your pets. Be extra careful about pets coming into contact with insecticides that you have sprayed in the yard or around the house. Consult your veterinarian about the best products for your pet's lifestyle. You must take extra precautions when treating ticks and fleas on puppies and kittens.
- Mouse/Rodent Poison -- Mouse and rodent poisons should not be used in areas that are accessible to pets. Pets can ingest the poison itself, or eat the rodent that has consumed the poison. These poisons cause bleeding, paralysis and other often fatal effects. Signs of a problem may not occur for days so if you think your pet has eaten the poison, contact our veterinarian immediately. It is better to use non-toxic traps to rid yourself of these pests 6. Chlorine/Pool Chemicals -- The chlorine used in pools can cause severe lung damage if inhaled and burns to skin that is contacted. Pool chlorine is significantly stronger than that used for laundry. Keep it closed in a tight container in a safe place.
- Barbecue lighter fluid and kerosene – These liquids can cause damage to the lungs if inhaled (dogs or cats may sniff an open container), as well as irritation to eyes and skin.
- Fireworks – These are great fun on July 4th, but can cause severe stomach problems, bleeding, and blood cell abnormalities if your curious pets find one laying around. Remember, pets will eat almost anything!
- Suntan lotion – If left out and open and your pet decides to play with the tube, your cat or dog can suffer irritation of the mouth and eyes as well as stomach upset.
It is important to pet-proof your home as you would for a child. Do not expect that since your pet has never gotten into these things before, that he will not now. Always contact your veterinarian if you suspect that your pet has had access to any poisons or if you have any questions about keeping your pet safe.
If you need a veterinarian, please call the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association at 908-281-0918 for a referral or visit our website at dev.njvma.org. The New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association represents the state's 1,400 licensed veterinarians.