How Can Owners Prevent Accidental Pet Poisoning?
Wed, April 21, 2021

How Can Owners Prevent Accidental Pet Poisoning?


Pet poisoning is one of the most common emergencies vets and nurses see, stated Neus Elias Santo Domingo of Vets Now, a pet emergency care in the UK. Incidences of poisoning increase during holiday seasons like Easter or winter, resulting from eating chocolate or food infused with raisins, currants, and sultanas. But there are ways to save yourself and your pet from an emergency trip to your veterinarian.

Survey Highlights Pet Food-Induced Poisoning In North America (2010)

Wilson K. Rumbeiha and colleagues conducted an online survey between April 4 and October 31, 2007 to learn about the outcome of pet food-induced nephrotoxicity in March 2007, via NCBI (National Center for Biotechnology Information), a part of the United States National Library of Medicine. Pets suffering from melamine poisoning suffered mainly from acute renal failure, characterized by polyuria, isosthenuria, and more.

451 out of 586 reported cases met the criteria for inclusion in the survey. Of the 451 cases, 424 were reported as affected. Of these, 278 cases or 65.6% were cats and 146 or 34.4% were dogs. The majority of affected pets (78.8%) did not have any reported preexisting conditions (gastrointestinal disease, renal disease, cardiovascular disease, neurological disease, cancer, and other) that predisposed them to renal failure. By species, 22.5% of affected canines and 20.6% of affected felines reported predisposing conditions.

Among deceased cats and dogs, the respondents relied on histopathology findings (70.8% for cats and 64.5% for dogs) and history of consuming recalled pet food (71.4% versus 72.9% ). Among recovered and currently ill cats and dogs, the respondents depended on history of eating recalled pet food (91.8% and 86.7% of recovered cats and dogs versus 86.2% and 70.8% of those currently ill) and urinalysis (26.5% and 33.3% versus 19% and 12.5%).

Among the positive canine responses, 78.9% were found to have preexisting renal disease and 21.1% had cardiovascular disease. Of the 43 feline responses, 74.4% had preexisting renal disease, 11.6% had cardiovascular diseases, and 14% reported something outside of the list of categories.  

The researchers then tackled the association between preexisting renal disease, health status, and death. For pet cats, 57.3% of felines with no noted preexisting conditions (versus 23.2% of currently ill and 19.5% of previously ill) died unlike 77.2% of cats with known preexisting renal disease (versus 12.3% and 10.5%). It is found that renal impairment increased the incidence of death by 20%.  

In canines, 87.5% of those with preexisting conditions died compared to those with no preexisting conditions (12.7%). 9.4% of dogs with preexisting conditions were currently ill unlike 19.1% of those without preexisting conditions. 3.1% of canines with preexisting conditions were previously ill compared with 12.7% of those without preexisting conditions.

With regard to age and sex, 24.6% of male and 21.5% of female dogs had preexisting conditions (versus 75.4% and 78.5%), suggesting that there are no significant findings with regard to predicting predisposition to renal disease.

However, for cats, 13.9% of male and 27.7% of female cats had preexisting conditions (versus 86.1% of male and 72.3% of female cats without preexisting conditions), suggesting that felines’ odds of predisposition to renal disease increased their chance of death or euthanasia. The authors noted that older cats were more likely to have preexisting disease conditions that predispose them to melamine-contaminated pet food than younger cats or dogs.

Rumbeiha and colleagues concluded that melamine cyanurate is a potent toxin that can affect pets without preexisting conditions. However, those with preexisting conditions increased the likelihood of death.



How to Prevent Accidental Poisoning

1.      Keep Plants Away

Did you know that many plants are poisonous to pets? There are plants that are not toxic to humans (but are toxic to pets) such as the mistletoe, hibiscus, Diffenbachia, and those in the Easter lily family, noted American Humane, a non-profit organization. The aforementioned plants can cause your pet to suffer from renal failure, irregular heartbeats, cardiac shock, and death. Other toxic plants you need to watch out for are sago palm, rhododendron, Japanese yew, azalea, oleander, and castor bean.   

What if you can’t give up those plants? You can place them in an unreachable location to prevent your pet from chewing or digging them up. Outside grass can be infused with deadly fertilizers and pesticides, but an indoor mini-lawn provides a source of safe, edible greenery for your pet.

2.      Avoid Giving Your Pets Human Food Without Consulting Your Vet

On the other hand, some owners think that feeding their pets with human food is safe. But there are some food products that are unsafe for consumption such as milk. Milk is not easily digested by most adult animals and they may even develop diarrhea.

Chocolate, particularly baking chocolate, can be lethal and should not be given to your pets. Grapes and raisins can cause appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and acute renal failure in dogs, which can be fatal. Onions can also destroy your pet canine’s red blood cells, causing anemia.

3.      Keep Pets Away From Toxic Substances

To poison-proof your home, it is strongly recommended to place cleaning products in a high, closed cabinet. No product should be placed below counter level as liquid drain cleaners, tub, and tile cleaners can be fatal to your pets. Don’t forget to exercise caution in the garage and ensure that bags of insecticide and auto care liquids are stored high in a cabinet.

If you have cats, make sure to keep them away from calamine lotion, sunblock, analgesic ointments, and diaper rash ointments.  Felines tend to be drawn to unusual flavors so keep them away from these products as they are toxic when ingested.



4.      Stop Yourself From Administering Human Medications to Your Pet

Some pet owners mistakenly think that human medications work well for animals. However, some medications like aspirin can be lethal to your pet. Acetaminophen and any aspirin product can cause your companion’s stomach to bleed.  Birth control and vitamins can also lead to internal bleeding.

Administer any medications prescribed and recommended by your veterinarian as pets metabolize and eliminate some of them differently than humans, explained ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing animal cruelty.   

Be cautious when cleaning your home as home products are toxic to animals. Don’t assume that feeding human food to your pet is safe. Some food items that are not safe for consumption include chocolate and raisins. Exercise vigilance at all times and store toxic substances in a high, closed cabinet. Consult your vet immediately if your pet ingested or contacted toxins.