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Summer is one of the best times of the year to get outside and play alongside your pets, but the hot season also brings with it a myriad of hazards, including toxins that can harm your animal friends.
"During the summer months, Pet Poison Helpline is inundated with calls involving yard and garden products (including bone meal, fertilizers, and insecticides), mulch and compost pile ingestions, and exposures to outdoor plants and mushrooms. As with all poisonings, early recognition and decontamination (including emesis induction and activated charcoal administration) are key to a successful outcome. " [petpoisonhelpline.com]
Here are some very helpful and potentially life-saving tips from the Pet Poison Hotline about helping your pet avoid summer poisons:
In the backyard
First things first, with your pets wanting to cool off in the shade in your yard, make sure that any containers or bags of chemicals are tightly closed and locked away in the basement or garage.
If you compost in your yard, please make sure it is sufficiently fenced off or enclosed to prevent pets from digging through it. Decaying food products can contain "tremorgenic mycotoxins" which can cause severe reaction in pets within 30 minutes, including "agitation, hyperthermia, hyper-responsiveness, panting, drooling, and vomiting, and can progress to serious CNS signs (including incoordination, tremors, and seizures!)" Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of a compost pile is if you've tossed in any plants that had slug and snail bait on them (metaldehydes). This is a highly toxic substance and pets need to purge the toxins as quickly as possible if they've consumed them (which means you need to get them to a vet right away!)
Mole and gopher bate is bad news for dogs and cats. These types of bate often contain zinc phosphide or bromethalin, neither of which have an antidote and "both can result in rapidly developing, life-threatening symptoms." If you suspect your pet has been exposed to bate you buried in your backyard, get them emergency medical care right away. Better yet, avoid using these bates altogether.
In the car
Although heat is not a poison per say, it can be life-threatening to your pets. Watch for signs of heat stroke such as vomiting, heavy or noisy breathing, dazed appearance, glazed eyes, and collapse. Bathe your pet in cool (not cold) water immediately if you notice any of these behaviors and get them to a vet as soon as possible. Pets should not be left in a car on a hot summer day, as they are much more likely to get heat stroke due to the enclosed space. Likewise, putting your dog in the open bed of your truck can lead to sun burn, dehydration and burns due to the hot metal of the bed.
On the beach
The beach is a commonly frequented place to take pets in the summer, but it's important not to let your pet drink excessive amounts of salt water, because it can lead to salt poisoning. "While initial signs of hypernatremia include vomiting and diarrhea, salt poisoning can progress quickly to neurologic signs like walking drunk, seizures, progressive depression, and ultimately, severe brain swelling. Hypernatremia needs to be treated very carefully with IV fluids by your veterinarian." Salt poisoning can be avoided by bringing plenty of fresh water to the beach and something your dog can drink out of like a bowl or Tupperware.
In the water
Blue-green algae (aka cyanobacteria) can be found in both fresh and salt water during the warm summer months. Check your local news to see if the watering holes you regularly frequent are safe before bringing your pet for a swim since exposure occurs when your pet drinks or plays in the water.
This is far from an exhaustive list of summer hazards to watch out for, but it's a good start. At Pawderosa Pet, we want all our clients and their pets to enjoy fun and safe summers free of complications! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions about caring for your pet. We're here to help!