Toxicity Part 3 - Plants and Household Items

October 14, 2015
hello world!

Previously we’ve discussed toxicity, along with foods and medications that cause it. Let’s look a little broader at the house. There are some common things lying around your own home, unsafe for your pets, which might surprise you.

Poisonous Plants

Some of those potted plants adorning your house or yard with their beautiful flowers and fragrances might be bad for your pooch or feline friend. A very common plant I’ve seen around is Oleander. All parts of this plant are poisonous and should be kept away from pets. Lilies are dangerous for cats only; even a small amount can cause severe kidney damage. Should your pet be a digger of the flower beds, tulip and narcissus bulbs pose some dangers with stomach irritation, loss of appetite, convulsions, and cardiac abnormalities. Another iconic flower is chrysanthemums.  These plants contain pyrethrins which cause intestinal upset, drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea.

Medical marijuana

Medical marijuana is legal in some states, including California. Should your dog or cat eat any of the dried plant, eat foods containing it, or have second-hand smoke exposure seek immediate veterinary help. The symptoms include severe depression, walking as if drunk, coma, low heart rate, low blood pressure, hyperactivity, and seizures. Don’t be afraid to tell your veterinarian if you think your pet ingested any as it can help them diagnose and treat your pet. Be aware as possible of the plants in your yard and house, and if they could be harmful to your pet.

Toxic Household Items

Plants around the house cover just a small fraction of toxic possibilities. As was mentioned briefly in Part 1, a commonly known household product is antifreeze. It has a sweet taste that attracts pets to drink it. Ethylene glycol is the toxin that makes it lethal, and less than 3 oz. can poison a medium-sized dog. What’s something you use every day but shouldn’t be shared with your pet? Human toothpaste! Our toothpaste contains fluoride. In puppies less than 6 months it interferes with enamel formation, and it can irritate a dog’s stomach. Another big item to consider is insecticides and rodenticides. Pets can be inquisitive and should be kept away from these, lest they get into or eat them.
Let’s move on to some other household items. We all have that jingle in our pockets from coins. Sometimes a dog may eat coins if they have a mineral deficiency. While in big dogs, like a great dane, they can usually easily pass the coins; however smaller dogs, like dachshunds, run the risk of becoming blocked. The coins can stop up the stomach or intestines and prevent food from passing. Call your veterinarian if you think your pet ate any coins. We are swiftly coming up on the holidays. One thing I see frequently in stores at this time is potpourri. While I’m use to the ones containing dried pieces of plants, fruits, and pine cones it can also come in a liquid form. The former will have toxicity depending upon the types of plants used, and the latter contains cationic detergents. These detergents can cause severe burns and blisters on the tongue, larynx, and esophagus. Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has gotten into the potpourri.
Written by Beth Chapman, Clinical Assistant at Pinole Pet Hospital