Summer Time Hazards
Summer is here! It’s time to get out and enjoy the nice weather and BBQ with friends and family. While we are all out having great time, we don’t always think about our how our pets are feeling. There are many hazards and stressors that our pets can encounter during the summer.
Most of us include our dogs when grilling or picnicking. Some foods are not good for your dog to have such as:
Anything containing grapes and raisins (and even currants) are considered to be poisonous to dogs. Common picnic items like grapes, baked goods containing raisins (e.g., oatmeal raisin cookies), and trail mix all pose a threat. While one or two grapes are unlikely to cause a problem (depending on the size of the dog), accidental ingestion of the Vitus spp. can result in the following signs:
· abdominal pain,
· excessive or decreased thirst or urination, and
· acute kidney failure
Unfortunately, clinical signs often aren’t obvious until days later, when it’s more costly – and more dangerous – to your pet. Treatment includes decontamination, aggressive intravenous (IV) fluids, anti-vomiting medication, blood pressure monitoring, urine output monitoring, and blood work monitoring (to check kidney function).
2. Baked goods containing xylitol:
Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute that is poisonous to dogs. While safe for humans, when accidentally ingested by non-primate species, xylitol can result in an insulin spike by the body (with a secondary life-threatening drop in blood sugar). So, if you have any baked goods, candies, mints, gums, etc. that contain xylitol, keep them out of reach of your dog. Clinical signs of xylitol poisoning can be seen as early as 15-30 minutes, and include:
· collapse, and
· lethargy (which are all signs of a low blood sugar).
Really high doses of xylitol can result in liver failure in dogs, and include signs of black tarry stool, jaundice (e.g., yellowing of the gums), malaise, walking drunk, and rarely, seizures and death. Treatment includes decontamination, blood sugar monitoring, dextrose supplementation, drugs to protect the liver, and monitoring liver function.
3. Corn on the cob and peach pits:
While corn on the cob and peach pits aren’t poisonous per se, these two common picnic items are very dangerous to dogs. Both of these leftover garbage scraps can easily get stuck in the intestines and require an expensive abdominal surgery to remove. Corn on the cob is notorious for being difficult to detect on x-rays, as the density doesn’t show up well. This makes it harder to diagnose, and potentially more life-threatening to your dog. Never feed your dog corn on the cob – if you want, slice the kernels off for him instead. Clinical signs of foreign body obstructions include:
· drooling (from nausea),
· abdominal pain,
· decreased stool production,
· inappetance, and
Believe it or not, left untreated, these picnic foods can cause the intestines to rupture and, potentially, death.
4. Fatty table snacks or bones:
Leftover BBQ bits (like bones, gristle, and fat) and bones should never be given to your dog… especially if you own an overweight dog or one of these breeds: Yorkshire terrier, miniature schnauzer, or Shetland sheepdog. Why? Overweight dogs and certain breeds are particularly predisposed to pancreatitis, inflammation of the pancreas. This organ breaks down fat, and when overstimulated from a fatty meal, can result in the following clinical signs:
· abdominal pain,
· inappetance, and
· death (from organ failure).
When in doubt, keep these picnic items out of reach. Keep in mind that the sooner that you recognize that your pet is poisoned, the easier it is to treat and the less dangerous (and less expensive) it is to your dog. Enjoy your summer with your dog, but pay heed to these common picnic pet emergencies!
Then there are the fireworks. If a pet is left unattended around fireworks, they can become accidentally poisoned or injured. Fireworks contain hazardous chemicals such as coloring agents, dangerous heavy metals, sulfur and oxidizing agents such as potassium nitrate. Many of them contain dense cardboard also, which can result in a problem (e.g., foreign body obstruction). If fireworks are accidentally ingested, they can cause gastrointestinal upset in your dog (cats rarely ingest fireworks, thanks to their discriminating palate!).
Clinical signs of firework poisoning include:
- Painful abdomen
- Bloody diarrhea
- Lack of defecation
- Breathing harder
- Neurologic signs (e.g., tremors, seizures)
- Kidney injury
- Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes)
- Bone marrow changes
More commonly, pets develop severe anxiety from the noise of fireworks, which can result in undue stress or even the accidental escape out of the house (in an attempt to run away from the sound).
Keep your pet inside while festivities occur. I like to choose the most sound-proof room, farthest from the noise. Keep the room dark and close all windows and doors to minimize the sound.
- Use white noise such as a ceiling fan, air conditioner, radio, TV, etc. to block out the sounds.
- Provide your dog some entertainment (such as a stuffed Kong treat) to distract him from the noise.
- Consider a Thunder shirt to help reduce anxiety.
- And of course, medications. Consider talking to your veterinarian about anti-anxiety drugs or sedatives that can help pets relax during fireworks.
If your pet may have ingested a foreign object or has anxiety from loud noises, please call us at our Elk River Clinic 763-441-4000 or our Princeton clinic 763-389-4071.
If something happens after hours, please call the closest emergency clinic to you.