Spring Hazards for Pets

By Joe Musielak, DVM

As many of you know, spring is on the way. While almost everyone loves the onset of spring and summer, these seasons have their own hazards for pets.
Slug Bait:
One of the most heart wrenching things we see in the Pacific North West is slug bait toxicity. Specifically slug baits containing METALDEHYDE©.  Even though it clearly states on the manufacturer’s package that it is poisonous to pets and children, we still see many cases of pets ingesting this substance every spring and summer. The pet usually presents with seizures or tremors. The condition is treatable if caught in time. Treatment consists of decreasing absorption, anticonvulsant therapy, blood work and IV fluids. Your pet will usually need to be hospitalized at least overnight. Some pets respond quickly and others take several days to recover. Some are left with permanent damage if their body temperature gets too high from the seizures. There are pet safe slug bait products available that contain iron phosphate. They are effective, much less hazardous to pets, and much less expensive than a visit to the emergency hospital.
Toxic Plants:
Dogs and cats are not humans. Many of us consider them to be people but their bodies are different in the substances that they can ingest.
In the spring, many of us like to begin working on our gardens. Before you plant, be certain that you know if a given flower or shrub is safe for your pet.
Incidentally, onions, grapes, cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage are considered to be toxic to dogs and cats.  These are common fruits and vegetables in our area that many people are not aware of their danger to pets.
For other toxic plants you can check out the following sites: http://www.library.uiuc.edu/vex/toxic/comlist.htm
Or call one of the poison control hotlines:
1-888-426-4435 or 1-800-8-POISON
Unfortunately, very few toxins that pets can ingest have specific antidotes. Most cases of toxicity must be treated with supportive care. The absolute BEST way to treat a case of poisoning is to PREVENT it!