If you want to create a dog-friendly area, here are some substances to fence out of reach of your pets.
Acorns – The toxic ingredient in acorns is tannic acid, which can cause damage to the liver and kidneys.
Antifreeze – Speaking of your garage, be aware that antifreeze can cause deadly kidney failure in dogs. The main ingredient in antifreeze, ethylene glycol, tastes sweet and is attractive to dogs. Because poisoning has been a serious issue, all major antifreeze manufacturers have recently agreed to add bittering agents to their products to reduce canine and human exposures. However, older products may still be lurking in your garage. If you own a dog, don’t store antifreeze and don’t let your car’s radiator leak.
Artificial Sweeteners – Xylitol, a popular artificial sweetener commonly found I sugar-free candy and gum, is extremely dangerous for both dogs and cats causing a spike in insulin and a severe drop in blood glucose. If not treated immediately, pets will develop hypoglycemic seizures and go into shock. Symptoms begin suddenly and will result in death without medical intervention. If you own dogs, it’s best not to stock any products containing xylitol.
There is no antidote for chocolate poisoning. However, veterinarians may induce vomiting, administer activated charcoal, and/or provide intravenous fluid to help flush toxins out of the body. If the ingestion and treatment is performed in the first four hours, the prognosis is good.
Compost –Moldy food and garden waste in compost can produce dangerous mycotoxins which are highly dangerous to dogs. Mycotoxicosis, which is poisoning by-products contaminated by fungi, can be fatal. Keep your compost out of reach, and seek urgent veterinary advice if you suspect your dog has eaten the contents of a compost bin.
Cooked Bones – though it may seem counter-intuitive, cooked bones are dangerous treats for dogs. They splinter easily and can puncture delicate gastrointestinal tissue, leading to a life-threatening condition called peritonitis that occurs when intestinal contents leak into the abdominal cavity. The only treatment is surgery.
Fabric Dryer Sheets – If your house is like mine, these little buggers show up everywhere. They have a lot of uses beyond the laundry room, from freshening drawers to removing dust from ceiling fans, blinds and computer or TV monitors.
There’s even a dangerous hack that recommends rubbing your pet’s coat with a dryer sheet to calm them during electrical storms by reducing the static electricity in their fur. But beware! Many (read most) dryer sheets contain ingredients that can be toxic to your pet. Go for a plant-based version such as Method (Beach Sage) or Seventh Generation Natural. Better yet, don’t use them on your pets. The same goes for bedding—skip the liquid fabric softener here also.
Fertilizers- If your dogs are like ours, they love to roll around on a grassy lawn. Fertilizers can be highly toxic to dogs, and it’s easy for your dog to come into contact when your sprinkle or spray it over a lawn or garden.
Organic fertilizers may sound safe, but they’re often worse. Natural/organic fertilizers contain “meals” left over in the farming or meat industries—bone meal, blood meal and fish meal. These products may smell attractive to your pet but they are not good for their digestive systems.
Products with additives such as insecticides are even more dangerous
Marijuana – If you have a dog, keep an eye on your stash! Although edible marijuana products are the most attractive to dogs, they’ve been known to consume baggies of buds straight up. It used to be marijuana toxicity usually wasn’t fatal, but there have been result fatalities after consumption of medical-grade products.
Mushrooms – While not every mushroom is toxic, it’s best to remove all mushrooms from yards where pets might eat them. If you see your dog eating a wild mushroom, seek veterinary care. If caught early, the vet can induce vomiting and avoid many of the negative effects. Try to bring one of the mushrooms with you to the vet.
Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, any other NSAID, aspirin – while it might be a temptation to help out a four-legged friend with arthritis or other pain, DON’T’ DO IT! These are all toxic for both dogs and cats.
Pest-Control Products – Household pests certainly are nuisances. Snails and slugs destroy vegetable gardens, gophers dig up the yard, and mice and rats cause damage and contamination (and eat our citrus in Arizona).
But the poisons designed to kill these pests also can kill dogs. Gopher bait liberates phosphide gas into dogs’ intestines, causing intestinal necrosis. A painful death can follow. Snail and slug bait causes tremors and seizures—and again painful death.
An antidote exists for the hemorrhage-causing products, but they are being phased out in favor of the product that causes brain swelling, and for which there is no antidote.
All of these pesticides come in forms that are designed to be attractive to live pests—and are therefore also attractive to dogs. Don’t keep them in your house or garage.
Toads – Toads produce a venom through their skin when they’re under attack, and it can be fatal if left untreated. The toxins cause dogs to foam at the mouth, vomit, and show signs of distress such as pawing at the mouth and eyes. Take your dog to the vet if it displays any of the above signs after getting a hold of a toad.
Weed Killer – Many weed killers contain glyphosate. It’s dangerous if swallowed, licked, or brushed against. If you plan to use weed killer, keep your dog inside to avoid any problems.
Other weeds have parts that can break off and become lodged in your dog’s skin. The most common culprit is Foxtail. It’s one of the most dangerous weeds your dog can get into. Foxtail is a type of grass with seeds. These barbed seeds can enter your dog’s mouth, nose or ears. They can also become embedded in your dog’s feet, skin or genital area. They have an arrow shape that enables them to travel, and they can dive deep into any orifice, well beyond sight. Not only is the dog’s body incapable of degrading or decomposing the foxtails, these plants are barbed in such a way that they can only more in a “forward” direction. Unless caught early, surgery may be required to extract the irritant.
Of course, this isn’t the only plant/flower toxic for dogs. I’ve listed the most common below.
NOTE: Plants in Bold can be fatal
Deadly Nightshade, Delphinium, Dieffenbachia, Dumb Cane
Easter Lily (especially poisonous to cats), Elephant Ears, English Ivy, Foxglove, Geranium
Heavenly Bamboo, Hellebore, Hemlock, Henbane, Hibiscus, Holly (berries), Hyacinth (bulbs), Iris (roots), Jack in the Pulpit, Jimson Weed (Thorn Apple)
Lantana, Larkspur, Laurel, Lily, Lily of the Valley, Lobelia, Maple Tree, Marijuana, Milkweed, Mistletoe (berries), Morning Glory, Mother-in-law’s Tongue, Mountain Laurel
Oleander, Pencil Cactus, Peony (roots), Philodendron, Poinsettia (leaves, stems and sap), Poison Ivy, Poison Hemlock, Poison Oak, Poison Sumac, Primrose
Ragwort, Rhododendron, Rue, Sago Palm, Spider Plant, Tiger Lily (especially for cats), Tobacco plant, Tulip
Walnut, Water Hemlock, Weeping Fig, Wild cherry (twigs and foliage), Wolfsbane, Yarrow, Yew (berries and foliage).
Mushrooms, Nuts (all, but particularly Brazil, walnut, pecan, pistachios, macadamia and peanuts)
Onion, Persimmon seeds, Potato (green skin and sprouts), Raisins, Rhubarb
Tomato Plant (green fruit, leaves and stems).
But as tempting as it is to throw your dog the odd table scrap or treat, or even let them forage, it is very important to make sure you know what can be harmful to your pet.
If you have any doubt that they might have eaten something they shouldn’t, or if they are showing any signs of distress or unusual behavior, check in with your vet right away.
Until next week, be happy: Hug your pet!