Move Over Mount Rushmore – Toxin Dangers Featuring Pets with Presidential Names

The Details

George Washington loved chocolate so much, he and Martha used to order 50 pounds of it at a time. It turns out that another Washington, this time a German Shephard mix from Bend, Oregon, is also a chocoholic.

“We keep individually wrapped chocolates next to our coffee machine,” explained Sarah Pringle. “They had been there for months, but for some reason Washington decided he wanted a snack and individually unwrapped each chocolate before eating them. We knew chocolate was dangerous to pets, so we called Pet Poison Helpline. Fortunately, the toxicologist that assisted us told us that based on Washington’s size and type of chocolate ingested, he didn’t eat enough to require treatment. If he had been a small dog, however, it would have been a different story. He ended up being fine, but it was still scary.”

As the nation prepares to celebrate Presidents Day, the toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline scoured their case files for toxin calls that involved pets with presidential names for February’s Toxin Tails.

“We chose Washington’s case because we receive more calls about chocolate than any other potential toxin,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. “It turned out that Washington’s ingestion was not a concern for poisoning based on a combination of the type and amount of chocolate he consumed, so the call saved the Pringle family a trip to the emergency hospital. If it had been a toxic amount, our toxicologists could have worked with the treating veterinarian on a treatment plan to minimize the potential for serious poisoning.”

Common chocolate poisoning signs include hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, elevated heart rate, hypertension, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors and hyperthermia.


The next face high up there on Mount Rushmore is Thomas Jefferson.

“Thomas Jefferson grew hemp at Monticello,” said Dr. Schmid. “It is only fitting that a Golden Retriever named Jefferson was recently treated for eating what his owner thought were CBD gummies, but his symptoms were more consistent with THC poisoning. It’s possible that the product was contaminated, or perhaps the gummies were in fact THC and the owner was unaware. As more states legalize medical and recreational cannabis, the more marijuana-related calls we are receiving for both THC and CBD. In fact, marijuana ranked sixth on our top 10 pet toxins of 2023.”

THC and CBD are two of the cannabinoids found in marijuana and while THC is toxic to animals, pure CBD is not expected to be a concern. CBD also has no psychoactive properties, so it is not capable of causing neurologic signs in your pets, or getting them high. Clinical signs of marijuana (THC) poisoning include lethargy, weakness, ataxia, unresponsiveness, hypotension, bradycardia and urinary incontinence.  Although uncommon, some pets will display agitation instead of lethargy. While most pets recover, the increased sensitivity to THC in dogs can result in life-threatening signs and require aggressive medical care by a veterinarian.


Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt is the next presidential face on Mount Rushmore.

“President Roosevelt was a famous conservationist, so he would probably be disappointed with the amount of detergents we’re putting into our environment,” said Dr. Schmid. “Theodore the cat, who like President Roosevelt also hails from New York, apparently has no issues with detergents. In fact, he ingested an unknown amount of laundry detergent when his family wasn’t looking and was off to the veterinarian after vomiting and showing signs of respiratory irritation. Our expert toxicology team recommended an anti-emetic, intravenous fluids, chest radiographs, sedation, and oxygen therapy.”

“Cats are very sensitive to the surfactants and cationic detergents in laundry detergent with oral and esophageal lesions, vomiting, mouth pain, and aspiration occurring, which can lead to severe respiratory distress,” Dr. Schmid added. Fortunately, with the teamwork between the treating veterinarian and Pet Poison Helpline, Theodore was able to recover after life-saving care and returned home to his family.


Our final presidential face is Abraham Lincoln.

“In addition to the most common toxins, we also wanted to highlight the hidden danger in pet supplements designed to prevent grass scalding from pet urine,” Schmid explained. “Lincoln, a Portuguese Water Dog from Michigan, ingested approximately 100 chews that contained DL-methionine, an overdose of which can cause vomiting, abdominal pain, ataxia, tremors, seizures, coma, and metabolic acidosis.” Fortunately, although Lincoln developed neurologic signs and vomiting, he was treated by his veterinarian with the recommendations made by Pet Poison Helpline and made a full recovery.

Pet Poison Helpline created Toxin Tails to educate the veterinary community and pet lovers on the many types of poisoning dangers facing pets, both in and out of the home. All the pets highlighted in Toxin Tails have been successfully treated for the poisoning and fully recovered.


About Pet Poison Helpline

Pet Poison Helpline®, your trusted source for toxicology and pet health advice in times of potential emergency, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. We are an independent, nationally recognized animal poison control center triple licensed by the Boards of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Pharmacy providing unmatched professional leadership and expertise. Our veterinarians and board-certified toxicologists provide treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $85 per incident includes follow-up consultations for the duration of the case. Based in Minneapolis, Pet Poison Helpline is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at www.petpoisonhelpline.com.