If your pet is experiencing respiratory distress or seizures caused by a toxin or persistent non-productive retching, these are considered “RED” – or true emergencies – on our Fast Track Triage system. We advise you to seek immediate veterinary care. Please call ahead of your arrival so the veterinary team knows to expect you!
If you witnessed or strongly suspect your pet ate or was topically exposed to a toxin, these are considered “ORANGE ” – or urgent cases – on our Fast Track Triage system. We recommend calling ASPCA Animal Poison Control at 888-426-4435 for help determining if your pet consumed a toxic amount and for guidance on what to do next. If veterinary care is advised, call your family veterinarian or local animal emergency hospital ahead of your arrival.
Please see our Fast Track Triage chart at the end of this blog for more symptoms and their corresponding triage color codes.
It’s autumn! From back–to–school to mushroom foraging to picking pumpkins and apples – there is a lot to enjoy in autumn! But there are also seasonal chores like winterizing vehicles and prepping for the cold. So, what potential pet toxins and hazards should pet parents be on the lookout for? Here is our list of ten!
1. Human Foods
‘Tis the season for baking and cooking! Unfortunately, many favorite fall ingredients are toxic to pets. The list includes xylitol, chocolate, raisins, Zante currants, macadamia nuts, spices such as nutmeg, and alliums like onions, garlic, and leeks. Yeast bread dough is also a huge concern if consumed by pets. It can cause ethanol poisoning and a life-threatening stomach twist as well. Caffeinated and alcoholic beverages are also toxic – including alcohol-soaked breads and cakes!
2. Mold/Mycotoxin Poisoning
From food in the trash to rotten apples at the orchard to real gourds set out as décor – mold can be present in a lot of places this autumn! If a pet eats anything that contains mold, they may experience tremorgenic mycotoxin poisoning – which varies in severity but should be evaluated by a vet immediately.
3. Acorns and Conkers
Whether in your yard or out on a hike, wild acorns and conkers (also known as Chestnut tree seeds) are toxic to pets. Acorns contain tannic acid and conkers contain aesculin. Both acorns and conkers can also cause a choking hazard or intestinal blockage if swallowed.
4. Wild Mushrooms
Even if you are an expert mushroom forager, it can be difficult to identify toxic species of mushrooms. The potential symptoms are divided into three types – gastrointestinal (GI) upset, liver damage, and neurotoxicity. It’s best to remove wild mushrooms from your yard and monitor your pet closely while hiking or foraging. Increase your fungus patrols in the days following rainstorms!
There are many diverse types of plants and flowers that are toxic to pets, but during autumn, the Autumn Crocus (also known as Meadow Saffron) and Chrysanthemums (also known as mums or daisies) are more common culprits. Autumn Crocus can cause bloody vomiting, diarrhea, shock, organ damage, and bone marrow suppression. Chrysanthemums can cause vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, incoordination, and dermatitis. Before bringing any plants or flowers into your home, double-check that they aren’t toxic to your pets by identifying them with the Plant Snap App and then looking them up on ASPCA’s Toxic & Non-Toxic Plant Guide.
6. Potpourri and Essential Oils
Essential oils can cause allergic reactions when topically applied to pets, as well as respiratory issues when diffused (this is especially dangerous for pet birds). Additionally, there are several essential oils that are toxic to pets: Pennyroyal Oil, Tea Tree Oil, Wintergreen, Pine Oil, cinnamon, clove, sweet birch, thyme, and Ylang Ylang.
7. School Supplies
Whether or not you have a student in your home, many supplies can be hazardous to pets. Wooden pencils and splinters can get lodged into the mouth, throat, or intestines. Art supplies with the CL (Cautionary Labeling) Seal are toxic, and so are Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) products such as three-ring binders, planners, and notebooks with colored plastic. View more potential school supply hazards here.
8. Gorilla Glue
Autumn is often the time for last-minute home projects before winter comes. For those who use Gorilla Glue, always keep your pets in a separate room until you have finished the project and put it away. When swallowed by pets, Gorilla Glue reacts with the esophageal and stomach fluids, rapidly expanding to 3-4 times its original volume, and then hardening into a foam-like, fitted, indigestible mass called a cyano-bezoar. Once ingested, even seemingly insignificant amounts can lead to GI obstructions.
While winterizing vehicles, be careful where you store antifreeze (ethylene glycol). Antifreeze smells and tastes sweet due to the alcohol content, so curious pets may lap up spills or chew on bottles. Antifreeze is especially dangerous because even tiny amounts can cause severe and permanent kidney damage if consumed by your pet.
Often, homeowners use rodenticides in the house or garage – but for pet-friendly homes, it’s crucial to keep pets away from areas where rodenticides are used or stored. Anti-coagulant, neurotoxin, cholecalciferol (activated Vitamin D3), and zinc phosphide are the most common types of rodenticides, and they can each cause potentially fatal symptoms such as internal and external bleeding, brain and spinal cord swelling, and organ damage leading to organ failure.
Human medications are one of the most common pet emergencies all year-round. With kids back in school, be extra careful with those flu and cold medications around the house, as well as any medications stored in a backpack or bag such as pain relievers, ADHD medications, and inhalers.
We hope you and your pets have a fun yet safe autumn season! If your pet does need veterinary care and your family veterinarian is unavailable, both our Oakdale and St. Paul ERs are open 24/7, every day of the year. Always call ahead of your arrival.