To Every Poison There Is a Season
By: Charlotte Flint, DVM
People are often surprised to learn that we see trends in poisonings here at Pet Poison Helpline based on the season or time of year. As we head into 2014, let’s review the year in poison and hopefully you can use this information to help keep your pets safe in the coming year.
We all get a bit of cabin fever when temperatures drop. Bored pets spending more time indoors can get into trouble when they find toxic foods, medications, supplements, and other products that should be out of reach. Many people take vitamin D supplements when sunlight is scarce, and dogs will readily ingest a whole bottle of this vitamin. Dogs have also been known to ingest toxic winter supplies like ice melts, hand warmers, fire starter logs, and antifreeze. Cats may get into liquid potpourri and other essential oils used around the home.
At Pet Poison Helpline, Halloween through Easter is chocolate season. Last year we managed so many chocolate exposures during this time, we began to wonder if the world’s dogs would succeed in eating all of the chocolate thus putting us out of work! In addition to chocolate, pets often get into many other unhealthy holiday treats including alcohol, yeast dough, cookies and other baked goods, and baking supplies like butter and raisins.
As the ground thaws and the days grow longer, we head outside with our pets. Dogs often get into gardening supplies like fertilizers, compost, pesticides, plant bulbs, and toxic plants. Lilies, which are very toxic to cats, are often included in Mother’s day bouquets, start to sprout in our gardens, and often come into the home around Easter.
Unfortunately, summer fun sometimes goes awry. In the summer, we manage cases of dogs that have ingested gardening supplies, insecticides, sunscreens, and swimming pool supplies. Both dogs and cats can get into trouble if flea and tick products are used inappropriately. Around the Fourth of July we usually see an uptick in calls about dogs that have chewed or ingested fireworks.
In the fall, unwanted house guests, like mice and other rodents, start to move inside, spurring many people to place rodenticides in their home, garage, and other buildings. Unfortunately pets will also ingest rodenticides if they have access. Wild mushrooms and blue-green algae tend to be more prevalent during the late summer and fall months. Halloween kicks off chocolate season, and we also receive calls about pets biting into glow sticks and other glow jewelry when the trick or treating is over.
No matter the season, always feel free to call Pet Poison Helpline if you have any questions about potential toxins and your pet. Here’s to a healthy and happy 2014!