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RAISIN THE ALARM

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This week I had the first case in history of raisin toxicity ever seen at MedVet. My patient was a 56 pound, 5 yr old male neutered lab mix who ate half a canister of raisins sometime between 7:30 AM and 4:30 PM on Tuesday. He started with vomiting, diarrhea and shaking about 1 AM on Wednesday but the owner didn't call my emergency service until 7 AM.

I had heard somewhere about raisins AND grapes causing acute renal failure but hadn't seen any formal paper on the subject. We had her bring the dog in immediately. In the meantime, I called the ER service at MedVet, and the doctor there was like meóhad heard something about it, but ... Anyway, we contacted the ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center and they said to give I V fluids at 1 1/2 times maintenance and watch the kidney values for the next 48-72 hours.

The dog's BUN (blood urea nitrogen level) was already at 32 (normal less than 27) and creatinine over 5 (1.9 is the high end of normal). Both are monitors of kidney function in the bloodstream. We placed an I V catheter and started the fluids. Rechecked the renal values at 5 PM and the BUN was over 40 and creatinine over 7 with no urine production after a liter of fluids.

At the point I felt the dog was in acute renal failure and sent him on to MedVet for a urinary catheter to monitor urine output overnight as well as overnight care. He started vomiting again overnight at MedVet and his renal values have continued to increase daily. He produced urine when given lasix as a diuretic. He was on 3 different anti-vomiting medications and they still couldn't control his vomiting.

Today his urine output decreased again, his BUN was over 120, his creatinine was at 10, his phosphorus was very elevated and his blood pressure, which had been staying around 150, skyrocketed to 220. He continued to vomit and the owners elected to euthanize.

This is a very sad caseógreat dog, great owners who had no idea raisins could be a toxin. Please alert everyone you know who has a dog of this very serious risk. Poison control said as few as 7 raisins or grapes could be toxic. Many people I know give their dogs grapes or raisins as treats. Any exposure should give rise to immediate concern. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Laurinda Morris, DVM
Danville Veterinary Clinic
Danville, Ohio

HUMAN FOODS THAT POISON PETS
Feeding pets food that we enjoy is not only wrong, it can also be fatal. There are some foodstuffs that humans relish which cause illness and death if eaten by pets.

Chocolate, macadamia nuts and onions are good examples. Each of these foods contains chemicals which rarely cause problems for humans, but for dogs, these same chemicals can be deadly.

Chocolate toxicity   Top
Chocolate contains theobromine, a compound that is a cardiac stimulant and a diuretic.

When affected by an overdose of chocolate, a dog can become excited and hyperactive. Due to the diuretic effect, it may pass large volumes of urine and it will be unusually thirsty. Vomiting and diarrhoea are also common. The effect of theobromine on the heart is the most dangerous effect. Theobromine will either increase the dogís heart rate or may cause the heart to beat irregularly. Death is quite possible, especially with exercise.

After their pet has eaten a large quantity of chocolate, many pet owners assume their pet is unaffected. However, the signs of sickness may not be seen for several hours, with death following within twenty-four hours.

Cocoa powder and cooking chocolate are the most toxic forms. A 10-kilogram dog can be seriously affected if it eats a quarter of a 250gm packet of cocoa powder or half of a 250gm block of cooking chocolate. These forms of chocolate contain ten times more theobromine than milk chocolate. Thus, a chocolate mud cake could be a real health risk for a small dog. Even licking a substantial part of the chocolate icing from a cake can make a dog unwell.

Semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate are the next most dangerous forms, with milk chocolate being the least dangerous. A dog needs to eat more than a 250gm block of milk chocolate to be affected. Obviously, the smaller the dog, the less it needs to eat.

Onion and garlic poisoning   Top
Onions and garlic are other dangerous food ingredients that cause sickness in dogs, cats and also livestock. Onions and garlic contain the toxic ingredient thiosulphate. Onions are more of a danger.

Pets affected by onion toxicity will develop haemolytic anaemia, where the petís red blood cells burst while circulating in its body.

At first, pets affected by onion poisoning show gastroenteritis with vomiting and diarrhoea. They will show no interest in food and will be dull and weak. The red pigment from the burst blood cells appears in an affected animalís urine and it becomes breathless. The breathlessness occurs because the red blood cells that carry oxygen through the body are reduced in number.

The poisoning occurs a few days after the pet has eaten the onion. All forms of onion can be a problem including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions and/or garlic. Left over pizza, Chinese dishes and commercial baby food containing onion, sometimes fed as a supplement to young pets, can cause illness.

Onion poisoning can occur with a single ingestion of large quantities or with repeated meals containing small amounts of onion. A single meal of 600 to 800 grams of raw onion can be dangerous whereas a ten-kilogram dog, fed 150 grams of onion for several days, is also likely to develop anaemia. The condition improves once the dog is prevented from eating any further onion

While garlic also contains the toxic ingredient thiosulphate, it seems that garlic is less toxic and large amounts would need to be eaten to cause illness.

The danger of macadamia nuts   Top
Macadamia nuts are another concern. A recent paper written by Dr. Ross McKenzie, a Veterinary Pathologist with the Department of Primary Industries, points to the danger of raw and roasted macadamia nuts for pets.

The toxic compound is unknown but the affect of macadamia nuts is to cause locomotory difficulties. Dogs develop a tremor of the skeletal muscles, and weakness or paralysis of the hindquarters. Affected dogs are often unable to rise and are distressed, usually panting. Some affected dogs have swollen limbs and show pain when the limbs are manipulated.

Dogs have been affected by eating as few as six macadamia kernels (nuts without the shell) while others had eaten approximately forty kernels. Some dogs had also been given macadamia butter.

Luckily, the muscle weakness, while painful, seems to be of short duration and all dogs recovered from the toxicity. All dogs were taken to their veterinary surgeon.

Pets owners should not assume that human food is always safe for pets. When it comes to chocolate, onions, garlic and macadamia nuts, such foods should be given in only small quantities, or not at all. Be sure that your pets canít get into your stash of chocolates, that food scraps are disposed of carefully to prevent onion and garlic toxicity and that your dog is prevented from picking up macadamia nuts if you have a tree in your garden.

Other potential dangers   Top
  • Pear pips, the kernels of plums, peaches and apricots, apple core pips (contain cyanogenic glycosides resulting in cyanide posioning)
  • Potato peelings and green looking potatoes
  • Rhubarb leaves
  • Mouldy/spoiled foods
  • Alcohol
  • Yeast dough
  • Coffee grounds, beans & tea (caffeine)
  • Hops (used in home brewing)
  • Tomato leaves & stems (green parts)
  • Broccoli (in large amounts)
  • Raisins and grapes
  • Cigarettes, tobacco, cigars
  • HOUSEHOLD POISONS

    Thousands of dogs and cats needlessly suffer and many die each year by accidental ingestion of household poisons, including pesticides, popular houseplants, medications and common foods. 

    • Mothballs, potpourri oils, coffee grounds, homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, batteries, cigarettes, alcoholic drinks, pennies and hand and foot warmers could be dangerous for your pet.
    • Keep all prescription and over-the-counter medications out of your pets' reach, preferably in closed/locked cabinets above the counter. Painkillers, cold medicines, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills can be lethal to animals, even in small doses.
    • Read all of the information on the label before using a product on your pet or in your home.  If a product is for use only on dogs, it should never be used on cats; if a product is for use only on cats, it should never be used on dogs.
    • Be aware of the plants you have in your home and yard. The ingestion of azalea, oleander, sago palm or yew plant material by your pet can be fatal.  Easter lily, day lily, tiger lily and some other lily species can cause kidney failure in cats. 
    • Make sure your pets do not go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until they have dried completely. Always store such products in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, ask the manufacturer and/or your veterinarian for instructions.
    • Be alert for antifreeze/coolant leaking from your vehicle. Animals are attracted to the sweet taste and ingesting just a small amount can cause an animal's death.  Consider using animal-friendly products that use propylene glycol rather than those containing ethylene glycol.
       
    • When using rat, mouse, snail or slug baits, or ant or roach traps, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your pet. Some bait contains sweet smelling inert ingredients, such as jelly, peanut butter or sugar that can attract your pets.
    ANTIFREEZE

    Prevention is key to avoiding accidental ingestion of antifreeze!   Motorists can help prevent accidental ingestion of antifreeze. most cases of antifreeze poisoning occur around the pet's own home and are usually due to improper storage or disposal. The following are some guidelines for pet owners to follow to avoid pet exposures to antifreeze:

    * Always clean up antifreeze spills immediately.

    * Check your car regularly for leaks.

    * Always store antifreeze containers in clearly marked containers and in areas that are inaccessible to your pets.

    * Never allow your pets to have access to the area when you are draining antifreeze from your car.

    * Propylene glycol containing products are a less toxic form of antifreeze and could be used instead of conventional ethylene glycol antifreeze.

    POISONOUS HOUDEHOLD PLANTS

    Cardiotoxic plants: (effect the heart)  

    Convallaria majalis  .............................. Lily of the Valley
    Nerium oleander.................................... Oleander
    Rhododendron species......................... Rhododendron, azalea, rosebay
    Taxus species........................................ American, Japanese, English, and Western Yew
    Digitalis purpurea.................................. Foxglove
    Kalanchoe spp....................................... Kalanchoe
    Kalmia species....................................... Mountain laurel, lambkill, calico bush
    Leucothoe species................................. Dog hobble, dog laurel, fetter bush
     Lyonia species...................................... Fetter bush, male berry, stagger bush
    Pieris spp................................................ Fetterbush, lily-of-the-valley bush
    Pernettya species  

    Plants that could cause kidney failure:

    Certain species of lilies in cats only

    Rhubarb (Rheum species)- leaves only


    Plants that could cause liver failure:

    Cycads  (Cycad species)

    Amanita phalloides- mushroom


    Plants that can cause multiple effects:

    Autumn Crocus (Colchicum species)  Can cause bloody vomiting and diarrhea, shock, kidney failure, liver failure, bone marrow suppression.

     Castor Bean (Ricinus species )
    ∑ Usually a lag period of 48hours before signs appear
    ∑ Beans are highly toxic! Two to 4 beans can be lethal to adult humans!
    ∑ Severe gastroenteritis, oral pain and irritation increase in thirst, kidney failure, convulsions, death.


    Mushrooms

    ALWAYS assume that any ingested mushroom is highly toxic until that mushroom is identified by a mycologist.  Toxic and non-toxic mushrooms can grow in same area.


    What should pet owners do if they suspect their animal has ingested a poisonous plant? What symptoms should they look for?

    If a pet owner suspects that their animal ingested a poisonous plant, they should contact their veterinarian immediately.  Its advised to bring in part of the to a nursery for identification if the exact species is not known.  Symptoms of poisonings can include almost any clinical sign. The animal may even appear completely normal for several hours or for days. 


    What about pesticides and fertilizers that might be in the garage or tool shed?

    FERTILIZERS:  Make sure your pets do not go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until the time listed on the label by the manufacturer.  If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the manufacturer for clarification before using it.  Always store pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. The most serious problems resulting from fertilizer ingestion in pets is usually due to the presence of metals.  For instance, depending on the amount ingested, an iron toxicity could occur.  Iron can cause severe gastrointestinal upset and could result in multi-organ damage.  Also, ingestion of large amounts of fertilizer could cause severe gastric upset and possibly gastrointestinal obstruction.

    PESTICIDES:  The most dangerous forms of pesticides include: snail bait containing metaldehyde, fly bait containing methomyl, systemic insecticides containing disyston or disulfaton, zinc phosphide containing mole or gopher bait and most forms of rat poisons.  When using pesticides place the products in areas that are totally inaccessible to your companion animals.  Always store pesticides in secured areas.


    Is there a way for pet owners to train or teach their pets not to eat wrong plants?   There may be ways that a pet owner could train their pets to avoid certain areas of their home or yard where there are poisonous plants.  However, the safest method would be to prevent exposure to the plant through removal of the plants from your pet's home and yard. For more pet poison prevention tips or to tour our "virtual poisonous plant garden", visit napcc.aspca.org.


    Calcium Oxalate containing plants:
    Some plants that contain calcium oxalate crystals in the plant cells.  If the plant material is ingested, the crystals can cause oral irritation, intense burning and irritation of the oral cavity.  Clinical signs seen from ingesting these plants include difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, drooling, and inappetence.  The following is a list of some plants that contain calcium oxalate crystals:

    Dieffenbachia (Dumb Cane) Philodendron Schefflera
    Pothos Spathiphyllum  (Peace Lily)  Caladium spp (Elephan's ear)

    FLEA CONTROL PRODUCTS

    The following are some guidelines for pet owners to follow when choosing and applying a flea control product:

    1. Never use insecticides on very young, pregnant, debilitated, or elderly animals without consulting your veterinarian. You may want to consider avoiding the use of some insecticides directly on your pet. Instead, you could comb the fleas off the animal with a flea comb then submerge the fleas in a small container of soapy water. This would also be a good alternative for pets that love being groomed but who violently refuse baths or the application of a spray.

    2. Before using ANY product on your pet read the label instructions completely. If you do not completely understand the instructions, you should contact the manufacturer or your veterinarian for clarification. Observe the species and age requirements listed on the label. NEVER use a product labeled "for use on dogs only" on your cats.

    Cats react very differently than dogs to some insecticides. 
    Some dog products can be deadly to cats, even in tiny amounts. 

    3. Always use caution when using shampoos, sprays, topical spot-ons, or mousse near your pet's eyes, ears, and genitalia. Inactive ingredients could cause irritation to these sensitive tissues.

    4. When using a fogger or a home premise spray, make sure to remove all pets from the house for the time period specified on the container. Food and water bowls should be removed from the area. Allow time for the product to dry completely before returning your animals to your home. Open windows or use fans to "air out" the household before returning your pets to the treated area. Strong fumes can be irritating to your animalís eyes and upper respiratory system. 

    Birds are more sensitive to inhalants and usually require longer time before their return to the treated home.  Contact your veterinary health professional for advice on product usage around your birds.

    5. If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, contact the product's manufacturer or your veterinarian to explain the directions BEFORE use of the product.

    6. Insect growth regulators like lufenuron, methoprene, and pyriproxyfen can be used in combination or alone with flea control products. They can help break the flea life cycle by inhibiting flea maturation. Growth regulators have minimal adverse effects and can improve the efficacy when used in combination with adult flea insecticides.

    8. Just because a product is labeled as "natural" product does not mean that the product is completely safe. Many such "natural" products can be harmful when used inappropriately on pets. For example, d-limonene and linalool are citrus extracts that are used as flea control agents. Though they are natural products, they still can have serious side effects if used on sensitive animals or if used improperly.

    9. Observe your pet closely after using flea products. If your pet exhibits unusual behavior, or becomes depressed, weak, or uncoordinated you should seek veterinary advice immediately.

    Once again, ALWAYS read the label. This could save the life of your pet!

     

    Be aware of the plants you have in your home and yard. The ingestion of azalea, oleander, sago palm, or yew plant material by an animal can be fatal.  Easter lily, day lily, tiger lily, and some other lily species can cause kidney failure in cats. 

    Never allow your pets to have access to the areas in which cleaning agents are being used or stored. Cleaning agents have a variety of properties; some may only cause mild stomach upset, but others can cause severe burns of the tongue, mouth and stomach.

    When using rat, mouse, snail or slug baits, or ant or roach traps, place the products in areas that are inaccessible to your companion animals. Some bait contains sweet smelling inert ingredients, such as jelly, peanut butter or sugar that can attract your pets.

    Never give your pet medication unless you are directed to do so by a veterinarian. Many medications that are safe for humans can be deadly for animals.

    Keep all prescription and over-the-counter drugs out of your pet's reach, preferably in closed cabinets. Pain killers, cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, antidepressants, vitamins and diet pills are all examples of human medications that can be lethal to animals, even in small doses. 

    Many common household items can be hazardous to pets. Mothballs, potpourri oils, coffee grounds, homemade play dough, fabric softener sheets, dishwashing detergent, batteries, cigarettes, alcoholic drinks, pennies, and hand and foot warmers could be dangerous for your pet.

    Automotive products such as gasoline, oil and antifreeze should be stored in areas that are inaccessible to your pets. As little as one teaspoon of antifreeze can be deadly to a cat weighing seven pounds.

    Before buying a flea product for use on your pet, ask your veterinarian for a recommendation. 

    Read all of the information on the label before using a product on your pet or in your home.  Always follow the directions.

    If a product is for use only on dogs, it should never be used on cats; if a product is for use only on cats, it should never be used on dogs.

    Make sure your pets do not enter areas in which foggers or house sprays have been used for the period of time indicated on the label.  Birds are more sensitive to inhalants.  Always check with your veterinarian before using any spray product in your home if you own pet birds.

    Make sure your pets do not go on lawns or in gardens treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until they have dried completely. Always store such products in areas that are inaccessible to your pets.

    If you are uncertain about the usage of any product, ask the manufacturer and/or your veterinarian   for instructions.       

     

    Pet Safety Kit
    Your animal may become poisoned in spite of your best efforts to prevent it.  
    Because of this, you should be prepared.

    Your animal companions regularly should be seen by a local veterinarian to maintain overall health. You should know the veterinarian's procedures for emergency situations, especially ones that occur after usual business hours.

    You may benefit by keeping a pet safety kit on hand for emergencies. 
    Such a kit should contain: 

    A fresh bottle of hydrogen peroxide 3% (USP)  Can of soft dog or cat food, as appropriate 
    Saline eye solution to flush out eye contaminants  Turkey baster, bulb syringe or large medicine syringe 
    Artificial tear gel to lubricate eyes after flushing Mild grease-cutting dishwashing liquid (for bathing
    Forceps to remove stingers  Muzzle to keep the animal from hurting you while it is excited or in pain
    Rubber gloves for use during bathing Pet carrier to help carry the animal to your local veterinarian

    You should not attempt any therapy on your pet without contacting your local veterinarian.  If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to a poison, it is important not to panic.  While rapid response is important, panicking generally interferes with the process of helping your animal. If your animal is seizing, losing consciousness, unconscious or having difficulty breathing, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

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