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Did you know that alcoholic beverages can be potentially dangerous to pets?

During the winter season, holiday parties abound, with many festivities including cocktails and other alcoholic libations. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises pet owners to avoid leaving alcoholic drinks unattended; such beverages should always be kept well out of the reach of pets.

Depending on the amount ingested, alcohol ingestions can potentially result in vomiting, diarrhea, incoordination, central nervous system depression, difficulty breathing, tremors, acidosis, coma and even death.
•  Alcohol
•  Avocado
•  Batteries
•  Chocolate
•  Cicadas
•  Fireflies
•  Fruit
•  Glow Jewelry
•  Hydrogen Peroxide
•  Iron
•  Mothballs
•  Mushrooms
•  Onions, Garlic, Chives
•  Poinsettias
•  Rodenticides
•  Sago Palms
•  Silica Gel
•  Slug and Snail Bait
•  Systemic Insecticides
•  Valentine Treats
•  Yeast Dough
Did You Know… Avocado (Persea americana) is not an advisable food to give to pets? Avocado leaves, fruit, seeds and bark contain a toxic principle known as Persin. The Guatemalan variety, which is the most common variety found in stores, appears to be the most problematic.

The primary concern in dogs is with gastrointestinal (GI) irritation, including vomiting and diarrhea. Typically, these effects occur in dogs that have scavenged on significant quantities of fruit, branches or other material from the plant. Birds and rodents appear to be particularly sensitive, and can develop respiratory distress, generalized congestion, fluid accumulation around the tissues of the heart, and possibly death from consuming avocado.
Did You Know… batteries can cause more than just stomach upset if eaten by pets?

Many families have acquired an assortment of toys, electronics and other gizmos from recent holiday gift exchanges, many requiring various types of batteries to power them up. Because of the possible increase in battery usage this time of year, it is important for pet owners to be aware of the risks that batteries can pose, and take precautions against accidental exposures.

Alkaline batteries are generally the most common type of batteries, and are used in a wide variety of gadgets. This form of battery contains corrosives, which if chewed or punctured, can potentially result in the development of oral and gastrointestinal (GI) ulcers, or even perforation of the GI tract. Due to their corrosive nature, pet owners should never attempt to induce vomiting if their pet is suspected of having chewed and ingested an alkaline battery. These batteries also contain zinc, and while zinc poisoning is uncommon from battery ingestions, the possibility still exists if enough zinc leaks out of the battery casing.

Other types of batteries used in cameras, MP3 players, watches and other electronic devices include nickel cadmium (often labeled as “NiCd”), lithium, nickel metal hydride (usually referred to as “NiMH) and button cell. NiCd batteries contain cadmium, which could lead to the development of gastrointestinal irritation, and in cases where a large ingestion has occurred, neurologic effects may also be possible. While lithium can be poisonous, toxicity does not typically occur from lithium containing batteries. Button cell batteries can contain mercury, which may also present a hazard to pets if swallowed.

Pet owners should note that even if a pet swallows a battery whole without puncturing it, problems could still result- such as an intestinal obstruction. An obstruction from a foreign object like a battery could result in an emergency situation, possibly requiring surgery to remove the object. Because of these potential risks, batteries should always be securely stored in areas completely inaccessible to pets to avoid an accidental ingestion.
Did you know…chocolate can be harmful or even deadly to pets?

Depending on the form involved, chocolate can contain high amounts of fat and caffeine-like substances known as methylxanthines. If ingested in significant amounts, chocolate can potentially produce clinical effects ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death in severe cases.

Typically, the darker the chocolate, the higher the potential for clinical problems from methylxanthine poisoning. White chocolate has the lowest methylxanthine content, while baking chocolate contains the highest. As little as 20 ounces of milk chocolate, or only two ounces of baking chocolate can cause serious problems in a 10-pound dog. While white chocolate may not have the same potential as darker forms to cause a methylxanthine poisoning, the high fat content of lighter chocolates could still lead to vomiting and diarrhea, as well as the possible development of life-threatening pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition of the pancreas.
Cicadas are not a toxic risk to pets. News reports of the upcoming emergence of 17-year cicadas (Magicicada) in East coast and Midwestern states during 2004 have many pet owners wondering if the insects are harmful to their pets. These insects do not bite or sting, nor are they poisonous if ingested (as a matter of fact, they are eaten by a variety of animals including pigs, foxes and humans). If ingested, the hard exoskeleton of the cicada might cause mechanical irritation of the stomach, leading to mild vomiting; if ingested in very large amounts, there may be the potential for gastrointestinal foreign body obstruction. For more information on periodical cicadas, visit the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology.
Did You Know… Fireflies have been shown to be poisonous to various types of reptiles?

For many regions of North America, summer evenings would not be complete without the magical flashing glow of fireflies (also known as lightning bugs) dancing in the sultry night air. But while these charming little creatures are a pleasure to watch, they actually contain toxic substances that can produce fatal effects in some animals.

Fireflies belonging to the genus Photinus, which are quite common in many parts of the United States, contain chemical components called lucibufagins- which are similar to the toxic secretions of some poisonous toads. Many animals can be affected by this toxic chemical, but most will avoid eating these insects. Exposures resulting in death have occurred in certain kinds of lizards after being fed fireflies, particularly the Bearded Dragon, a native to Australia that has become a popular pet. Possibly because they evolved in a firefly-free environment, bearded dragons don’t appear to have the innate aversion to fireflies that is present in most native animals. Therefore, it is important for reptile caretakers to avoid offering these insects to their pets.
Did You Know...the arrival of Spring and Summer brings lots of fresh oranges, grapefruits, peaches, cherries, apples and many other delectable fruits. However, certain parts of these fruits can be potentially irritating - or even occasionally toxic in some situations- to our companion animals.

The peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants such as lemons, oranges, limes and grapefruits contain varying amounts of citric acid, limonin and volatile oils that can cause gastrointestinal irritation such as vomiting or diarrhea if ingested. In some cases, exposures to high concentrations of these substances (such as those found in certain citrus-based cleaners) could possibly result in central nervous system depression as well. The stems, leaves and seeds of apples, cherries, peaches, apricots and certain other fruit trees contain cyanogenic glycosides that have the potential to cause vomiting and loss of appetite, and in severe cases weakness, incoordination, difficulty in breathing, hyperventilation, shock, coma and even death could occur.

Typically, these severe effects develop from very large ingestions of plant material that are more likely to occur with grazing animals such as horses or other livestock. The consumption of a few segments of citrus fruit, an apple or two or a few cherries would usually not be expected to cause serious problems beyond perhaps minor stomach upset. However, it is important for animal owners to be aware of the potential for problems that these fruit trees can produce.
Did You Know… Colorful plastic glow-in-the-dark jewelry such as necklaces, bracelets and even hand-held glow sticks are popular items often sold at fairs, festivals and other summer time events. While the luminescent liquid inside these products might look like it could be poisonous, the relatively small quantity of fluid generally has a low potential for toxicity.

This oily, glowing substance is called dibutyl phthalate and can be found in a wide variety of products, from plastics to insect repellents. Based on ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center experience, most animals that chew into glow jewelry can exhibit signs such as profuse drooling, hyperactivity, agitation or aggressive behavior. However, while these effects may seem serious and quite alarming to pet owners, they are typically transient (lasting only a few minutes) and are only a response to the unpleasant taste of the liquid. Generally, the only treatment needed is diluting the taste residue with a small amount of milk, tuna juice or soft pet food; if the residue is on the skin or hair coat, mild soap and water can be used to wash it off and avoid the possibility of further ingestion via grooming.
Did You Know… 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, the same solution used for the cleansing of cuts and scrapes that can be found at your local drugstore, is the safest way to induce vomiting in your pet at home?

Of course, pet owners should only induce vomiting when directed to do so by a veterinarian, but should your vet consider it necessary, 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) can be given at home as a first aid step to help remove potentially harmful substances from your pet’s stomach. Other home “remedies” such as salt, mustard, or ipecac are not reliable means of getting pets to vomit, and could actually result in potentially serious complications such as sodium poisoning or cardiac arrhythmias.

Generally, H2O2 is very effective, producing vomiting in about 10 15 minutes after dosing; once it has “fizzed”, it breaks down into water and oxygen and is quite harmless. The typical dose for inducing vomiting is about 1 ml per pound of body weight, not to exceed 45 ml or 3 tablespoons. It is advisable to offer your pet a small amount of moist pet food or a slice of bread with milk before giving H2O2, as having food in the stomach can make vomiting a little easier. It is important to never force H2O2 or any other liquid into your pet’s mouth, because he or she may accidentally inhale it, which could lead to pneumonia. Vomiting should also not be induced in animals exhibiting tremors or other neurologic signs, or with ingestions of certain substances such as caustic chemicals, oils or other items that could damage the gastrointestinal tract or become inhaled.
Did you know that depending on the form, iron is not only potentially toxic to pets, but can be found in a variety of forms and in many different products and substances?

Iron poisoning is the number one toxic fatality in children, and pets can be susceptible to iron poisoning as well. Some vitamin formulations are chewable and may be eaten in large amounts. Depending on the brand and formulation, as little as 2 prenatal vitamin tablets with iron can cause stomach upset in a 20 lb dog, whereas as few as 6 tablets can potentially cause more serious problems.

Depending on the form of iron and amount ingested, within the first few hours animals may initially exhibit signs of significant gastrointestinal irritation and pain, including vomiting and diarrhea which can be bloody. Subsequently, the pet may appear to recover, but approximately 12 - 24 hours following ingestion, gastrointestinal signs may reappear, along with severe depression, shock, low blood sugar, seizures, hemorrhage from blood clotting problems, fluid accumulation in the lungs, liver damage with jaundice, and possibly even kidney failure.
Did You Know…Mothballs can be potentially toxic to dogs, cats and other animals, particularly those containing an ingredient known as naphthalene. Some mothball formulations may alternatively contain an insecticide known as dichlorobenzene, which is somewhat less toxic than naphthalene. However, it can still cause stomach upset and potentially even neurologic effects, if large enough amounts are consumed. In 2005, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center managed close to four dozen cases involving animals exposed to mothball products.

Naphthalene can cause serious illness, including, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, liver, kidney and blood cell damage, swelling of the brain tissues, seizures, coma and death if ingested-and respiratory tract damage, if inhaled. Just one mothball can potentially produce significant illness.
Certain species of mushrooms are considered to be relatively non-toxic, while other species can be very toxic. Of the toxic species, some can potentially cause liver or kidney damage, while others may produce severe gastrointestinal or even neurological effects. Toxic mushrooms can often be found growing right alongside non-toxic ones. Because of this, identifying each type of mushroom existing on your property can be very difficult. The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises keeping all wild mushrooms out of the reach of pets, and recommends that all wild mushroom ingestions should be treated very seriously. If accidental exposures to wild mushrooms occur, seek immediate veterinary assistance by contacting your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.
Did You Know… Onions, garlic, chives and other species of the plant genus Allium can be potentially toxic to pets?

Allium species contain sulfur compounds known as disulfildes, which if ingested in large quantities can cause gastrointestinal irritation and could even result in damage to red blood cells. While cats are more sensitive to disulfides, dogs and other species of animals are also susceptible to Allium poisoning if enough plant material is consumed. Therefore, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises companion animal owners to avoid feeding pets onions, garlic and other Allium plants.
Did you know that Poinsettias are not the deadly flowers that popular legend has made them out to be?

Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima) are part of a family of plants known as spurges. During the 1820s Joel Robert Poinsett, the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico at the time, first brought poinsettias to the U.S. from a Mexican city he had visited. It was during the early part of the 20th century that the myth of the plant's toxicity began when the two-year-old child of a U.S. Army officer was alleged to have become ill and died from consuming a poinsettia leaf.

As a result of this rumor, the toxic potential of poinsettia has become highly exaggerated. In reality, poinsettia ingestions typically produce only mild to moderate gastrointestinal tract irritation, which may include drooling, vomiting and/or diarrhea. Therefore, while keeping this plant out of the reach of your pet to avoid stomach upset is still a good idea, pet owners need not fear the poinsettia and banish it from their homes for fear of a fatal exposure.
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises pet owners to exercise caution when using products to eradicate rodents, known as rodenticides. In 2003, the Center received over 6,900 calls involving animal exposures to rodenticides. The most dangerous forms include zinc phosphide, strychnine, and various commercial rat and mouse baits. Some baits also contain inactive ingredients meant to attract rodents, and these ingredients can sometimes be attractive to pets as well.

If a pet ingests a rodenticide, potentially serious or even life-threatening problems can result, which may include bleeding, seizures, or damage to the kidneys and other vital organs. Therefore, when using any rodenticide it is important to place the product in areas that are completely inaccessible to companion animals. Poisonings resulting from the consumption of rats, mice or other rodents that have ingested a rodenticide are not typically a concern in companion animals, unless their staple diet consists mainly of rodents.

Should accidental exposure occur, immediately contact your local veterinarian or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for assistance, and be sure to have the container or package information readily available so that a proper identification of the rodenticide's ingredients can be made for appropriate treatment.
Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta) and other cycad palms can be potentially deadly to pets. These popular ornamental plants, native to subtropical climates such as the Southeastern U.S., contain toxic compounds that can potentially produce vomiting and diarrhea, depression, seizures and even liver failure. All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the seeds or "nuts" appear to contain the largest amount of toxins. Just one or two seeds can produce serious problems, so it is important to keep pets from accessing these plants.
Did You Know…The statement “DESSICANT- DO NOT EAT” commonly found on the little packets of silica gel contained in medications, leather goods, certain pasta products and vitamins is not really as ominous as it sounds?

Silica gel is used to absorb moisture in many different products, and is usually packaged in plastic cylinders or paper packets. Silica gel is also used in certain cat litters for the same purpose. While it is indeed true that it is not meant for consumption, with most ingestions silica gel produces only mild stomach upset which typically resolves with minimal to no treatment. If very large quantities are eaten, however, such as with ingestions of multiple packets or mouthfuls of kitty litter, intestinal obstruction is a possibility- especially in very small animals.
Did You Know…certain products used for the control of slugs and snails contain metaldehyde, which can potentially be very dangerous or even lethal to pets?

Slug and snail bait products are most commonly used in the moist, temperate regions of the United States such as the Pacific coast and the South, where these molluscs tend to live in abundance, but are sold nationwide.They are commercially available in a variety of forms, including pellets, liquid and powder.

Depending on the amount ingested, these metaldehyde-containing baits can rapidly produce clinical effects, from within a few minutes to a couple of hours after ingestion.Signs can range from drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, panting and anxiety to incoordination, accelerated heart rate, dilated pupils and even seizures, central nervous system depression, coma and death from respiratory failure.

Pet owners should exercise extreme caution when using metaldehyde-containing baits, taking steps to ensure that the product is applied only to areas completely inaccessible to pets.Any unused bait should be stored in a secure container and cabinet out of the reach of pets. Alternatively, other less toxic formulations of snail and slug bait could be considered, such as those containing ferric phosphate.
Did You Know…while systemic insecticides used to protect delicate roses and other floral plants are quite effective at eliminating pesky aphids and other bugs that can cause plant damage, certain types-such as disulfoton-can be extremely hazardous to pets.

Insecticides are called “systemic” when they are absorbed throughout the whole plant by the roots.Disulfoton is a very potent organophosphate insecticide, which works by affecting the nervous system of insects.Unfortunately, disulfoton’s neurologic effects are not limited to bugs, and therefore dogs, cats and other pets can be susceptible to poisoning as well.

Depending on the amount ingested, disulfoton can rapidly produce clinical effects, including excessive saliva, urine and tear production, vomiting, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, difficulty breathing, incoordination, muscle weakness, tremors, seizures, coma and potentially death.

Pet owners should exercise extreme caution when using insecticides such as disulfoton, always reading and following label directions for safe use and storage.Occasionally, potted roses and certain other flowering plants may have already been treated with disulfoton prior to being sold, so it is a good idea to check with your local nursery or lawn and garden store before purchasing such plants.Additionally, this insecticide may be mixed with organic fertilizers, which can be attractive to dogs.When treating plants with disulfoton, owners should take steps to ensure that it is applied only to areas completely inaccessible to animals.Any unused product should be stored in a secure container and cabinet well out of the reach of pets.
Did You Know…Certain types of candy and other goodies that are so popular during this romantic time of year can be harmful to pets?

For example, dogs ingesting significant amounts of gum or candies solely or largely sweetened with xylitol may develop a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. These signs can develop quite rapidly, so it is important that pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately. According to experts at the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, some data also appears to point to a possible link between xylitol ingestions and the development of liver failure in dogs.

Chocolate is another treat well loved by humans that could make pets ill. Depending on the form involved, it can contain high amounts of fat and caffeine-like substances known as methylxanthines. If ingested in significant amounts, chocolate can potentially produce clinical effects ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to panting, excessive thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors, seizures and even death in severe cases.

Typically, the darker the chocolate, the higher the potential for clinical problems from methylxanthine poisoning. White chocolate has the lowest methylxanthine content, while baking chocolate contains the highest. As little as 20 ounces of milk chocolate, or only two ounces of baking chocolate can cause serious problems in a 10-pound dog. While white chocolate may not have the same potential as darker forms to cause a methylxanthine poisoning, the high fat content of lighter chocolates could still lead to vomiting and diarrhea, as well as the possible development of life-threatening pancreatitis, an inflammatory condition of the pancreas.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center advises pet owners avoid offering their animals food meant for human consumption, and to be especially diligent in keeping candy, gum or other foods containing chocolate or xylitol out of the reach of pets.
Did You Know… the dough used to make many of the delicious fresh-baked goodies during the holiday season could pose a serious problem to our pets if eaten?

Raw or uncooked yeast-based dough can not only expand in the stomach as it rises, causing an obstruction or intestinal rupture, yeast can form alcohol when it rises, which could potentially result in alcohol poisoning. Pet owners should take care to keep pets out of the kitchen while preparing meals, and never allow food items- such as rising yeast dough- to be left on countertops or other areas where pets can reach them.
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