5 Things You Didn't Know Were Toxic to Pets

Posted March 5, 2019 @ 2:32pm | by Melanie Neufeld, DVM

We all know that dogs should avoid chocolate and to keep those Easter lilies far away from cats. But what about those lesser known toxins lurking around our homes and gardens? To help keep you in the know, we’ve written about five less familiar toxins that you may not know are dangerous to your pets.

1.  Tea Tree Oil
Essential oils are used for a wide range of ailments in people; however, there’s little info regarding their safety for use on animals. One that we know you should steer clear of is tea tree oil - found in shampoos, conditioners, and even cleaning products. Tea tree oil is even touted as a parasite repellent on pets; however, it is actually very dangerous to animals via either skin contact or ingestion! Tea tree oil can affect the nervous system, liver, skin, muscles, blood vessels, gums, and respiratory system, and pets can even die. Keep tea tree products out of your pet’s reach, and please consult with your family veterinarian before using any essential oils on your pet! 

2.  Chives
Chives are a great addition to mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, soups, and salads. But chives don’t jive with cats and dogs! Chives are in the Allium plant family - along with garlic, onions, and leeks (all toxic to pets!) They can cause severe upset stomach and ulceration, causing vomiting, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, bleeding, and diarrhea. If that weren’t enough, plants in the Allium family also attack red blood cells and destroy them - causing anemia, collapse, or even death! So even if chives are an ingredient in a meal you’ve eaten, don’t feed the table scraps to your pets. Also, if you grow chives (or any other plants in the Allium family), keep your garden area fenced-in and inaccessible to your pets.  

3.  Pepto Bismol©
Pepto Bismol© can work well to ease our upset stomachs, but not so for pets! Pepto’s main ingredient is bismuth subsalicylate – closely related to aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). If your pet gets a high enough dose, he could suffer from aspirin/salicylate toxicity. Salicylate toxicity can cause severe stomach ulcers and even hemorrhage, kidney injury or kidney failure, liver injury, weakness, and neurological symptoms like depression, seizures, and brain swelling. Pepto may be safe for you, but it is NOT safe to give to your pets. If your pet has an upset stomach, talk to your veterinarian. There are much safer options your veterinarian can provide to get your pet feeling better!

4.  Homemade Playdough
It’s all fun and games - until the dog eats it! Homemade playdough is made from a mixture of flour, salt, and food coloring. Those playdough sculptures can be tempting to pets (especially dogs) and result in a salt toxicity. Salt is absorbed quickly leading to a number of symptoms including rapid fluid shifts in the body, severe brain swelling, vomiting, diarrhea, pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), kidney damage, muscle rigidity or muscle tremors, and high body temperature. Pets affected by salt toxicity need immediate medical care to correct their sodium imbalances and other symptoms. If you choose to make homemade playdough, keep pets well away from the area until after cleanup. Remind your children to never give your pets a playdough snack! 

5.  Toads
Toads? Yes, toads! In Minnesota, these beloved amphibians are safe if you or your pets are exposed to them (they won’t cause warts!) However, it’s a different story if you reside in, travel, or move to the southwest with your pets. Arizona, Colorado, California, Texas, Hawaii, and Florida (as well as Mexico) contain toads from the Bufo family. The Colorado River toad and the cane/marine toad secrete a toxin from their backs when threatened. The toxin is rapidly absorbed and can cause severe irritation including foaming at the mouth, painful gums, and retching. The toxin can also cause heart arrhythmias, difficulty breathing, or seizures. Be sure to see a veterinarian right away if your pet came in contact with one of these toads! If your pet shows interest in a toad, distract him or her with a tennis ball or Kong toy instead!

We hope you’ve learned something new - and don’t forget to add these five pet toxins to your list of things that are dangerous to your pets! If your pet does get into any toxic items, be sure to contact your family veterinarian. If your family veterinarian is unavailable, both our Oakdale and St. Paul clinics are open 24/7 for emergencies. 

 
 
 
 
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