For the last 50 years, the third week in March has been celebrated as International Animal Poison Prevention Week. Dr Sara Elliott at British Veterinary Hospital in Dubai explains the week (19th to 25th March) is all about bringing knowledge and awareness to all pet owners regarding the many poisonous hazards in and around homes and what to do if you know or suspect your pet has ingested something potentially harmful.
Dr Elliott said “It’s important pet owners are aware of the potential poison hazards - a little bit of knowledge can go a long way and it could save your pet’s life. This time of the year is still cool enough for pets and their owners to spend time outside, but spring can be hazardous for animals if they are left unsupervised in an active gardening space”.
“One of the most common poisons in gardening substances is fertiliser in any form. Most animals enjoy being outdoors and around plants, which are prime locations for herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals, so it is essential to dig fertilisers deep into the soil, making them inaccessible. In addition, it’s important to ensure any liquid applications are allowed time to dry before letting pets back outdoors.”
Dr Elliott put 12 year old Inka, the black Labrador, to sleep on Friday 17th March, just two days before Animal Poison Week. The family favourite suffered slug bait poisoning from a gardener leaving a carrier bag full in the garden. It was an unlabelled bag and the gardener had no knowledge as to proper storage or risks.
It’s not just the outdoors that poses threats to pets. Some commonplace houseplants such as lilies, tulips, oleanders and daffodils can also be toxic, some of which are a favourite of cats. If ingested, these plants can cause symptoms such as vomiting, drooling, skin irritation and even kidney damage.
It is beneficial to keep all plants out of the reach of pets to err on the side of caution. Pet owners also need to be more cautious as to which flower arrangements are kept at home.
Dr Elliott explains if anyone suspects their pet has eaten a poisonous substance, they should remember most toxins won’t activate immediately, it can take from 20 minutes to show effects, so they must remain vigilant for signs of distress.
In addition to flowers and fertilisers, pets should also be kept away from certain kinds of foods that could be dangerous to their digestive system.
Dr Elliott adds: “With Easter just a month away, you must ensure chocolates are not lying around the house or in the backyard. It may be a treat for you, but it is a threat to your dog,” says Dr Elliott.
“A dog’s metabolism while digesting chocolate is slow compared to their owners. Chocolate contains theobromine, a chemical which has similar effects to caffeine. It increases their heart rate and excitability or irritability could lead to seizures.”
Dr Elliott also advises avoiding feeding pet’s grapes or raisins, which can lead to kidney failure in dogs. And garlic and onions can cause blood cell damage and a stomach upset. She also emphasises the importance of keeping over the counter medications in a cabinet. “Pets are like toddlers, everything that could cause harm should be out of reach,” she said.
Picture Attached Inka the black Labrador suffered slug bait poisoning from a gardener leaving an unlabelled carrier bag full in the garden. The gardener had no knowledge as to use, risks or safety. She was put to sleep on Friday aged nearly 13yrs.