MILWAUKEE -- Has your pet ever come across something that is toxic? If so, what would you do if your pet consumed that toxic item?
Tim Vargo walked away for just a few minutes when his dog Banjo had a not-so-pleasant snack. “I looked down by my feet and I saw a piece of plastic that was the former raisin container, so I knew that he had eaten probably 100 to 150 raisins,” Vargo said.
While they may be tasty, raisins and grapes can be some of the most toxic things a pet can consume, and the amount Banjo ate could've been deadly. “Raisins or grapes will cause kidney failure,” veterinarian Pam Geiken said.
“I do know that when they eat something like that, you're supposed to get them to vomit right away. I gave him a bowl of hydrogen peroxide and he just licked it right up. He just sent all the raisins up on the kitchen floor. I’m glad I caught it quickly," Vargo said.
Banjo was okay, but as a precaution, Banjo stayed with Geiken at the Small Animal Hospital in Milwaukee for two days.
“We give them activated charcoal. We have to put a tube in them. It's messy. Activated charcoal absorbs the toxins and helps them move through the system without being absorbed further,” Geiken said.
At the Small Animal Hospital in Milwaukee, Geiken witnesses a lot of pets with toxic problems. She says the key to avoiding a visit to the vet is knowing what's poisonous to pets. “Every week we see toxicities. Some are repeat offenders,” Geiken said.
The items that are poisonous to pets is a long list sorted into four main categories: drugs, chemicals, plants and food.
Food is the most common with pets, especially chocolate -- the dark or baker's chocolate causes heart abnormalities and seizures. Onions and garlic are also dangerous. These can produce anemia in pets. Like raisins, mushrooms and xylitol (found in sugarless gum and candy) can cause kidney failure.
For felines, plants are a common poison, specifically lillies. “They can die if they're already far into the kidney failure process when we get them, so it's a pretty toxic plant,” Geiken said.
You should also keep your pet away from human medications like Ibuprofen, Prozac, and Adderall. Also chemicals such as antifreeze, cleaning products, or scented items like potpourri can be toxic to your pet. “Even if they don't eat it, they'll walk on it, lick their feet. It burns their mouth, burns their esophagus,” said Geiken.
Different toxins require different treatments. Some toxins require inducing vomiting, using an IV, giving your pet an antidote, or in extreme cases, surgery.
In the event of an emergency, one should call a vet or the ASPCA to find out what to do. Knowing what the animal consumed, and when the animal consumed the toxic item can help identify the required treatment. “If your pet does eat something, it'd be very important to keep the container, so you know the chemical,” Geiken said.
The ASPCA has a 24-hour veterinary poison control hotline to answer all your questions. The number is (888) 426-4435. There is a fee, but sometimes that fee is waived if you previously purchased a microchip.