The category of “household products” probably contains most of the non-drug substances that poison animals throughout the country each year. This would include insecticides designed to kill ants, fleas, termites, wasps, etc., pesticides against rats, mice, gophers and other unwanted pests, herbicides to kill weeds in our gardens, cleaners for our homes and businesses, and ethylene glycol and fuel and other petroleum products used in cars, heaters, and even lighters.
These are products, which are both widespread in use and frequently highly toxic. The combination of being common and deadly frequently results in a very dangerous situation for household pets that share our homes, gardens and cars.
It is the toxic active ingredient in the substance the pet is exposed to which will determine how much danger is present. Therefore, it is critical in any case of potential poisoning to find the container of the toxic substance and know the ingredients when seeking advice or veterinary services.
All rat poisons are not alike and the same is true of ant poisons, herbicides, flea products, etc. Different poisons may require very different treatments and it is necessary to know the active ingredient in a potential poison to know how to treat an exposed animal and to give a reasonably accurate prognosis. Ideally, the veterinarian should have the intact container with the label when evaluating the toxic potential of the product.
Do you feed your pets raw meat and uncooked bones? Raw eggs or chicken? Do they have easy access to trash cans full of rotting garbage? Is your bird feeder within snacking range? Each of these situations can spell salmonella poisoning for your dog or cat.
Salmonella, a group of about 2,000 related bacterial strains, is found in all of the above situations and more. Better known as “food poisoning,” salmonella causes gastrointestinal infection and can lead to terrible illness. “You have to assume salmonella is everywhere,” says Dane Bernard, a microbiologist with the National Food Processors Association, in an interview with Dog Fancy Magazine. All livestock carry the bacteria, which is merely transported to your supermarket and directly into your home.
In addition, songbirds are a real threat to cats in the north-eastern U.S., but dogs who come in contact with either bird faeces or birdseed that has been touched by the infected birds, are just as much at risk as their feline counterparts. Animals who become carriers of the bacteria spread it very easily to other animals and humans via their faeces. Although susceptibility depends upon the animals’ immune system, the strength of the particular strain and the amount ingested, salmonella in
its slightest form is a very painful infliction. Signs appear from 6-72 hours after the poisoning and include:
Noticeable fever, Vomiting, Dehydration, Constant diarrhoea, Weakness, Depression, Loss of appetite These signs must be recognised and acted upon immediately to gain as much of an early fight as possible. The animal may have to be quarantined to avoid infecting other pets in the household.
Preventing salmonella poisoning includes:
Cooking all raw meats (including poultry)
Buy a cooking thermometer to determine minimal acceptable temperatures- meats, 170 degrees; poultry, 185.
Boil eggs for a minimum of 7 minutes; poached, 5; and fried, 3 on each side.
Thaw all frozen meat and poultry in the refrigerator instead of on the counter.
Secure all possible sources of garbage.
Wash all preparation surfaces, utensils and your hands in hot, soapy water to avoid contamination of other foods.
Keep your pets away from other animal’s faeces and bird feeders.
Disinfect bird feeders with a mixture of ¼ bleach to 1 gallon of hot water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly before refilling the tray with seed.
The fresh taste of homegrown fruits and vegetables is worth every moment spent doting on the garden. However, if your pets or other wildlife happen get into that garden where you’ve sprayed pesticides, you may unknowingly be harming more than just the bugs. Marigold planting will repel many garden pests such as beetles. Mice and moles will make themselves scarce if you plant daffodil bulbs or garlic plants.
Flies and mosquitoes won’t be a problem if you plant basil in pots near your outdoor sitting areas. Spearmint will deter ants from dwellings and patios.
Ladybugs, which can be purchased [at nurseries], will eat aphids and make pesticides needless.
Erect bird houses in your garden to cut down on the number of insects.
Ant Repellent: Wash counter tops, cabinets and floors with equal parts of vinegar and water; or pour a line of cream of tartar at the place where ants enter the house- they won’t cross the line.
Caterpillar Repellent: Strip old fruit from vines and trees to keep insects from laying their eggs.
Flea and Tick Repellent: Boil a pint of water and cool it. Add either a thinly sliced lemon or one of a combination of herbs such as fennel, rue and rosemary.
Let the mixture sit overnight. Spray or sponge onto your pet. (Note: Good only for keeping fleas and ticks off of pets; will not make these parasites leave pets once they are on them.)
Moth Repellent: Place cedar chips around clothes or dried lavender sachets in drawers and closets.
Roach Repellent: Place whole bay leaves in several locations around the kitchen.
SIGNS OF POISONING
Many things, such as chemicals, alcohol, drugs and garbage can poison your pet.
Signs of poisoning include:
Vomit that may be tinged with blood
Burns around the mouth
Reddening of the skin
You may notice only one or two of these signs depending upon the type of poisoning, the quantity consumed and the length of time the poison has been in the animal’s system.
If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, contact your vet immediately and have as much information available as possible, including what was consumed (if known), weight of animal and any symptoms.