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Dogs and Picnic Dangers

Dogs and Picnic Dangers


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Dr. Justine Lee has some great tips to keep your dog safe during summer festivities. For more from Dr. Lee, find her on Facebook!

Ah, summer…the start of backyard BBQs and picnics outside. While I want to encourage you to spend more time outside with your pooch and your family, keep in mind that when picnicking, there are several dangerous food items that can pose a threat to your dog when accidentally ingested. More importantly, make sure your friends and family are aware of these risks to your dog, and advise them to never feed your dog any snacks without your permission.

Before you set that picnic blanket down, make sure your dog can’t get into the following dangerous or poisonous table foods:

  • Grapes and raisins
  • Baked goods containing xylitol
  • Corn on the cob
  • Peach pits
  • Fatty table snacks or bones

By just being aware of these 5 picnic dangers, you can save yourself a several thousand dollar veterinary bill and an emergency trip to the veterinarian!

Grapes and Raisins
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:

  • vomiting,
  • abdominal pain,
  • inappetance,
  • diarrhea,
  • lethargy,
  • 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).

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:

  • weakness,
  • vomiting,
  • 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.

Foreign Bodies: 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:

  • vomiting,
  • drooling (from nausea),
  • abdominal pain,
  • decreased stool production,
  • inappetance, and
  • lethargy.

Believe it or not, left untreated, these picnic foods can cause the intestines to rupture and, potentially, death.

Fatty Table Snacks and 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:

  • vomiting,
  • abdominal pain,
  • fever,
  • diarrhea,
  • weakness,
  • 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!

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.


Dogs and Picnic Dangers - pets

Even if it’s just for a moment, and even if the windows are cracked—it is never safe to leave an animal in a parked vehicle alone. Don’t let an excuse cost an animal their life. Not only can leaving an animal in a hot car lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states!

As of May 2018, 28 states have laws concerning companion animals left unattended in parked vehicles under dangerous conditions, such as intense weather conditions. Some of these laws involve legal action against the vehicle owner, while other laws provide immunity to those who may use forcible means—such as smashing a window—to rescue a vulnerable animal in a car.

To better understand the laws in your state, and to better prepare yourself for an emergency situation such as this, check out this full list of state laws concerning animals left unattended in vehicles. Also be aware that even in jurisdictions without such specific laws, endangering an animal’s life in this way could be prosecuted under general anti-cruelty statutes.

Stay safe as temperatures rise.

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger. To prevent your pet from overheating, follow this additional advice:

Know the signs of heatstroke and how to prevent it.

Symptoms of overheating in pets can include:

  • Excessive panting or difficulty breathing
  • Increased heart and respiratory rate
  • Drooling
  • Mild weakness
  • Stupor
  • Collapse

Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.

You’ll want to keep an eye out for these signs of distress, but you’ll also want to ensure that your pet is properly hydrated at all times. Make sure you give your pets plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Ensure that your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them and use your best judgment to keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot. Never let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during peak daytime hours to a minimum.

Also keep in mind that animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively as others. These pets, along with elderly and overweight animals, as well as those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.

Haircuts can be helpful also.

Feel free to trim longer hair on your pets, but never shave them down to the skin. The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. Be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.

For other ways to help, check out our full list of hot weather safety tips, and download and share our hot weather safety infographic to alert others of the dangers pets may face during the summer.


Top 10 Dog Poisons

Dog poison No. 1: Over-the-counter medications. This group contains acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen and naproxen (Advil, Aleve), as well as herbal and nutraceutical products.

Dog poison No. 2: Prescription medications for people. Drugs that might be beneficial or even lifesaving for people can have the opposite effect in pets. And it doesn’t always take a large dose to do major damage.

Some of the most common and harmful medications that poison dogs include:

  • Prescription anti-inflammatory and pain medications can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers or kidney failure.
  • Antidepressantscan cause vomiting and, in more serious instances, serotonin syndrome -- a dangerous condition that raises temperature, heart rate, and blood pressure, and may cause seizures.
  • Blood pressure medications.

Dog poison No. 3: People food. Your canine companion may look so cute as they sit there begging for a bite of your chocolate cake or a chip covered in guacamole, but not giving them what they want could save their life. Animals have different metabolisms than people. Some foods, such as onions and garlic, as well as beverages that are perfectly safe for people can be dangerous, and sometimes fatal, for dogs.

  • Alcohol. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in animals are similar to those in people, and may include vomiting, breathing problems, coma and, in severe cases, death.
  • Avocado. You might think of them as healthy, but avocados have a substance called persin that can act as a dog poison, causing vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Macadamia nuts. Dogs may suffer from a series of symptoms, including weakness, overheating, and vomiting, after consumption of macadamia nuts.
  • Grapes and raisins. Experts aren’t sure why, but these fruits can induce kidney failure in dogs. Even a small number may cause problems in some dogs.
  • Xylitol. This sweetener is found in many products, including sugar-free gum and candy. It causes a rapid drop in blood sugar, resulting in weakness and seizures. Liver failure also has been reported in some dogs.

Other foods you should keep away from your pet include tomatoes, mushrooms and most seeds and nuts

Continued

Dog poison No. 4: Chocolate. Though not harmful to people, chocolate products contain substances called methylxanthines that can cause vomiting in small doses, and death if ingested in larger quantities. Darker chocolate contains more of these dangerous substances than do white or milk chocolate. The amount of chocolate that could result in death depends on the type of chocolate and the size of the dog. For smaller breeds, just half an ounce of baking chocolate can be fatal, while a larger dog might survive eating 4 ounces to 8 ounces, though 8 ounces would be extremely dagerous. Coffee and caffeine have similarly dangerous chemicals.

Dog poison No. 5 Veterinary products -This includes medications as well as flea and tick treatments. Just as we can be sickened or killed by medications intended to help us, cases of pet poisoning by veterinary drugs are not uncommon. Some of the more commonly reported problem medications include painkillers and de-wormers. And you may think you’re doing your dog a favor when you apply products marketed to fight fleas and ticks, but thousands of animals are unintentionally poisoned by these products every year. Problems can occur if dogs accidentally ingest these products or if small dogs receive excessive amounts. Talk to your vet about safe OTC products.

Dog poison No. 6: Household products, from cleaners to fire logs. Just as cleaners like bleach can poison people, they are also a leading cause of pet poisoning, resulting in stomach and respiratory tract problems. Not surprisingly, chemicals contained in antifreeze, paint thinner, and chemicals for pools also can act as dog poison. The pet poisoning symptoms they may produce include stomach upset, depression, chemical burns, renal failure and death.

Dog poison No. 7: Rodenticides - Unfortunately, many baits used to lure and kill rodents can also look tasty to our pets. If ingested by dogs, they can cause severe problems. The symptoms depend on the nature of the poison, and signs may not start for several days after consumption. In some instances, the dog may have eaten the poisoned rodent, and not been directly exposed to the toxin.

Continued

Dog poison No. 8: Insecticides - Items such as bug sprays and ant baits can be easy for your pet to get into and as dangerous for your pet as they are to the insects.

Dog poison No. 9: Plants. They may be pretty, but plants aren’t necessarily pet friendly. Some of the more toxic plants to dogs include:

  • Azaleas and rhododendrons. These pretty flowering plants contain toxins that may cause vomiting, diarrhea, coma, and potentially even death.
  • Tulips and daffodils. The bulbs of these plants may cause serious stomach problems, difficulty breathing, and increased heart rate.
  • Sago palms. Eating just a few seeds may be enough to cause vomiting, seizures, and liver failure.

Dog poison No. 10: Lawn and garden products. Products for your lawn and garden may be poisonous to pets that ingest them.


Why is Xylitol Dangerous to Dogs, but Not People?

In both people and dogs, the level of blood sugar is controlled by the release of insulin from the pancreas. In people, xylitol does not stimulate the release of insulin from the pancreas. However, it’s different in canines: When dogs eat something containing xylitol, the xylitol is more quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, and may result in a potent release of insulin from the pancreas.

This rapid release of insulin may result in a rapid and profound decrease in the level of blood sugar (hypoglycemia), an effect that can occur within 10 to 60 minutes of eating the xylitol. Untreated, this hypoglycemia can quickly be life-threatening, Hartogensis says.

A note to cat and ferret owners: Xylitol does not seem to be as dangerous for cats and other pets. Cats appear to be spared, at least in part, by their disdain for sweets. Ferret owners, however, should be careful, as ferrets have been known to develop low blood sugar and seizures, like dogs, after eating products containing xylitol.


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