PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – March is Pet Poison Prevention Month. “Unfortunately, every year thousands of pets suffer from accidental ingestion of household poisons,” according to PetPoisonHelpline.org. Earlier this month, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center marked its 4 millionth case of potential toxicity. “In 2021, the APCC call volume increased more than 22%, assisting animals of all sizes and species across all 50 states, with cases ranging from gardening products to essential oil toxicity,” according to ASPCA.org. Many potential poisons could be lurking in your pantry, and they are things you might consume every day.
One of those things is xylitol, a sugar substitute with a low glycemic index. More and more people who are looking to cut back on sugar are using xylitol in their recipes. It’s also in sugar-free gum and candies. Pet Poison Helpline said last year that pet poisoning cases involving xylitol more than doubled from 2015 to 2020. The Helpline said xylitol poisoning was the second-most-common call it received in 2020, right behind chocolate.
“Xylitol consumption by pets, particularly dogs …, can be extremely toxic and potentially deadly,” Dr. Ahna Brutlag, a veterinary toxicologist with Pet Poison Helpline, said. “The most common effect of xylitol poisoning in dogs is a precipitous drop in blood sugar which can lead to loss of consciousness and seizures. In high enough doses, liver failure can begin within a few hours or days.”
Xylitol is also an ingredient in some peanut butters, which is often a go-to dog treat. Be sure to check the label before feeding Fido a spoonful.
- Lack of motor control
The legalization of recreational marijuana has been accompanied by an uptick in pet poisoning calls related to THC, as well as xylitol, which is often used to sweeten edibles. Pet Poison Helpline says the majority of calls it receives involve cats or dogs who have eaten “laced food products.”
- Stumbling and crossing over feet
- Dilated pupils
- Urinary incontinence
Many, if not most, people associate cats with milk. The truth, however, is that the milk humans enjoy is not good for cats and dogs. Dr. Katie Pagán of Heart + Paw says cats and dogs lose their ability to digest milk as they grow. They’re lactose intolerant as adults. That means milk and other dairy products like yogurt and cheese can cause diarrhea and other digestional issues for them.
Onions are one among many ingredients that are potentially dangerous for our pets. Garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives — also members of the allium family — are no-nos, as well. It does not matter if they are raw or cooked; onions (and their ilk) can cause your pet’s red blood cells to break down which leads to anemia. “Since most dogs would happily devour a bag of unattended onion rings or an onion casserole, given the opportunity, this is a serious concern,” explains the American Kennel Club.
Powered garlic and onion are more potent than fresh ones. “Onion powder is in a surprisingly wide range of foods, from soups to baby food,” according to AKC. “As a word of warning to those with multi-species households, onions are even more toxic to cats than they are to dogs, so keep both feline and canine tummies free of onion treats.”
- Decreased appetite
- Pale gums
- Reddish urine
Plants and flowers
Plants and flowers beautify our homes inside and out. But a nibble or two by your pet could trigger a variety of medical issues, including renal failure, irregular heartbeats, cardiac shock, and death, Pagán says. Hibiscus, lilies (popular during Easter), mistletoe, and azaleas are just a few potentially dangerous plants. Even plants that are not toxic can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal problems in cats and dogs, but the issues usually resolve themselves with no permanent damage. If your pet is sick, it’s essential for you to figure out what they ate so you can determine if a trip to an emergency vet clinic is necessary.
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