Many Toxic DangersLurk in the Home

Poisoned dogs always make headlines. Poisoning does not necessarily have to be due to maliciously laid bait. There are also dangers lurking for the dog on a walk or at home.

A suspicious sausage in Silenen UR, a dead dog in the Schützenmattpark in Basel: Every year, reports of dog poisoning cause an uproar. And even if the suspicion can only rarely be proven, many owners are firmly convinced: there are dog haters out there who want to harm our beloved four-legged friends. Symptoms of poisoning in dogs do not necessarily have to be attributed to poisoned baits. This shows
a new study in the Swiss Archives for Veterinary Medicine. Scientists have analyzed the animal poisoning cases from 2003 to 2012 that were reported to Tox Info Suisse, 1434 in number. With 60 percent of all cases, dogs are the most frequently affected by cases of poisoning – the causes for this are varied.

The greatest danger for the dog is not lurking outside on a walk, but at home in your own four walls. The most common cause of poisoning was with human medicines. A total of 247 dogs – and thus every third case of poisoning – had come into contact with medicines in the household. “These were either administered by the owner with good intentions, or they were lying around unprotected on bedside tables or open cupboard shelves,” says the study.

Bouillon Can be Deadly

For example, a dog had tampered with an ointment for psoriasis and died as a result. Other serious cases of poisoning occurred as a result of improper treatment with veterinary medicines. A dog reacted with life-threatening cramps after the veterinarian injected him with the wrong drug intravenously. Two dogs suffered circulatory failure because the owner had given them a drug with their food that should have been absorbed through their fur.

Food poisoning was also common. Dogs have been severely poisoned after eating chocolate, cocoa, or xylitol, a sugar substitute found in food and dental care products. Grapes, raisins, and grape waste are also toxic to dogs. A dog died after eating 500 grams of dried beef bouillon.

The list of other substances that ended up in the dog’s stomach and caused poisoning there is a long one: from button batteries, disinfectant cleaners, and caustic soda to tobacco – they all led to poisoning in dogs in the years examined. A papillon died after drinking from a cleaning agent, according to the study. A Chihuahua even swallowed parts of a firecracker.

With 232 cases, the second most common cause of poisoning in dogs is those substances that are often used in poisoned baits deliberately laid out: pesticides such as rat poison or slug pellets. There doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad intention behind it either. Dogs often unintentionally catch substances that are harmful to their health when they go for a walk. For example, fertilizers, which farmers increasingly bring to the fields in spring and summer.

Blue Grain Causes Stomach Problems

During the period under study, a total of eight dogs died because they had come into contact with castor bean meal in fertilizer. Seven other dogs were poisoned by grape pomace, which is used as a biological fertilizer and can lead to acute kidney failure in the dog within one to three days. Due to the cases of poisoning, the Federal Office for Agriculture has meanwhile banned the use of castor bean meal as organic fertilizer in Switzerland. In addition, grape pomace has recently been fermented or composted in biogas plants and only brought to the fields after it has been heavily diluted.

In social media, attention is often drawn to the danger of compound fertilizers, which are used in fields in the form of blue grain. Jacqueline Kupper from the Institute of Veterinary Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Zurich and co-author of the study explains: The fertilizer granules could cause gastrointestinal problems in a dog. “However, for a dangerous poisoning, the dog would have to eat a large quantity of the granules directly from the sack in which the granules are stored.” In the past 17 years, only one mild and one moderate case of blue seed poisoning has been reported to Tox Info Suisse.

If the dog suffers from gastrointestinal problems after the walk, if it has diarrhea or if it vomits, dog owners do not always have to immediately suspect the evil dog hater. Often the culprit lies in the household or on the walk without any bad intentions. Irrespective of the cause, however, the following applies: If you suspect poisoning, you must consult the veterinarian as soon as possible. Especially when the dog is plagued by cramps, has a fever, or even blood in the vomit or in the stool.

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