Veterinarian reminds pet owners about toxic substances

Many dog owners know to keep chocolate away from their pups, especially on Easter weekend when chocolate eggs can be hidden everywhere. However, it's not just chocolate that your furry pets should stay away from.

Some dogs will eat anything that fits in their mouth, says Sudbury vet

A Sudbury vet says it is not just Easter candy that could make your dog sick. (Martha Dillman/CBC)

Many dog owners know to keep chocolate away from their pups, especially on Easter weekend when chocolate eggs can be hidden everywhere. 

However, it's not just chocolate that your furry pets should stay away from.

"There are a crazy number of potential toxic substances in your home or in your cottage that your dog can get into and get really sick with," said Darren Stinson, a veterinarian at the Chelmsford Animal Hospital.

Chocolate is one of the substances that can make a dog ill, however, he says most dogs will be okay if they've only eaten a small amount.

"But if they eat the one pound solid, dark chocolate Easter bunny and it's a little chihuahua, that dog's going to get pretty sick," he said.

Chocolate can cause different reactions depending on how much a dog eats, said Stinson, it could cause vomiting or diarrhea or even be lethal depending on the size of the dog and how much chocolate it ate.

However, Stinson says there are other substances that pet owners should watch out for.

"Onions and garlic, raw, should not be fed to your dog or cat... also grapes and raisins can cause acute kidney failure."

Darren Stinson is a veterinarian based in Sudbury. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

He says it can be very lethal for a dog to eat grapes, even just one grape can be reason to panic.

He says again depending on the size, a large St. Bernard that eats one grape will probably not be affected, but if it eats a whole bag of grapes, it's time to worry. However, Stinson says they don't know the exact amount of grapes that are lethal.

Many people have heard to keep bacon away from their dogs, which he says is true. Dogs should stay away from bacon but not because it's toxic, but because of the high fat content.

"Depending on the age of your dog and the type of dog you have, the dog's pancreas may not be able to manage it and they will develop a very severe pancreatitis from it," Stinson said.

Stinson says some dogs will eat just about anything, meaning it's important to keep potentially dangerous materials and food out of reach. (Amanda Grant/CBC)

There are also non-food substances that are toxic for animals, such as poinsettias and lilies.

"Poinsettias cause mostly gastric and oral irritation and cause vomiting, but it's not likely to be lethal to your pet," he said.

"Lilies on the other hand, especially around Easter time, the pollen gets on cats... then they groom [themselves] and they ingest the pollen and they can die from that."

There are some toxic substances that people might not even think about when it comes to their pets, such as batteries, which can cause electrical burn in a dogs stomach.

"Gorilla Glue actually expands in a dogs stomach, so if a dog eats even a small amount of Gorilla Glue," said Stinson. "Gorilla Glue can expand 100 times it's size inside the dogs stomach causing a foreign body and we have to go in there and surgically remove it."

While most dogs won't eat just anything, some dogs will.

"Some dogs are just like Hoover vacuum cleaners, if it's on the ground and it fits in their mouth, they're going to swallow it," he said.

Stinson says he's seen some weird things that dogs have eaten.

"I had a Labrador puppy one time, came in to see me for vaccinations and it weighed I think 18 kilos, it came in three days later and it was over 25 kilos. It had eaten over seven kilos of rocks and we had to do surgery to remove these rocks, that was probably the weirdest."

As far as toxins go, Stinson says he's most worried about the newer types of mouse and rat baits.

"There are some incredibly, incredibly toxic baits out there that can kill your dog with a very, very small amount," he says. It can actually take months to treat a dog that's eaten this kind of poison, it's not as simple as making them vomit.


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