Pet Calming Chews Result in Human Panic

The Details

Many people use calming chews to relieve their pet’s anxiety, especially during the July 4 holiday. Not only can the sound of fireworks scare your pet, but a change in routine or sudden influx of visitors can cause pets great distress. While these supplements can help calm your pet, they can also be dangerous if taken in too great of a quantity.

“I had just moved to a new apartment, and I ran out to do some grocery shopping,” explained Jacque Dickson, who lives with her dogs Elton and Chubbs in Greensboro, North Carolina. “My father had recently bought a bottle of calming chews for Chubbs, who can be anxious. The bottle was in an unopened box, but the dogs managed to get into it and consume the entire bottle of more than 160 chews. My first call was to the pet emergency room, and they had me call Pet Poison Helpline before I even left the house.” By calling first, the toxicology experts at Pet Poison Helpline were able to start developing a recommended treatment plan based on Elton and Chubbs’ individual situations that could be ready when Dickson arrived at the clinic.

“After talking with the experts at Pet Poison Helpline, they determined that Chubbs was not in danger because of his size,” Dickson explained. “He’s a fit cattle dog, but he’s 65 pounds. Because Elton is only 10 pounds, they recommended I take him into the hospital for treatment and observation.”

As soon as Dickson arrived at Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Greensboro, the medical team was ready to start treatment. The Pet Poison Helpline team had determined that Elton had consumed a dangerous level of the product, which contains tryptophan. The toxicologists were concerned with Elton developing hypernatremia due to the number of chews he ingested, potentially causing a fluid shift that results in increased sodium concentrations. There was also a concern for serotonin syndrome to develop, which causes numerous neurologic and cardiovascular signs, due to the amount of L-tryptophan ingested.  With this in mind, the specialists at Pet Poison Helpline recommended an antiemetic, electrolyte monitoring, intravenous fluids and monitoring for serotonin syndrome, a condition that happens when there is too much serotonin in the body.

“The dedicated team at Carolina Veterinary Specialists took great care of Elton,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist and director of Veterinary Medicine at Pet Poison Helpline.  “He was closely monitored overnight and went home the next day, where Ms. Dickson could monitor both him and Chubbs for any additional symptoms or changes in behavior.”

Accidental medication poisoning is only one of the risks facing pets during the July 4 holiday. An even greater threat is pets being terrified by the loud fireworks explosions or getting out of the house and into other dangers such as being hit by a car. Pet Poison Helpline has partnered with AKC Reunite, the nation’s largest not for profit pet recovery service, offering its 24/7 toxicology expertise as an optional, unlimited benefit for its members to add to their pet’s lifetime protection.

“According to AKC Reunite, more pets go missing during the July 4th weekend than any other time of the year,” said Dr. Schmid. “To help prevent problems with your pet, AKC Reunite has six tips for protecting your pet this Independence Day.”


Tip 1: Establish a Place of Sanctuary

Make sure your dog or cat always has access to a comfortable, quiet and safe place to get away from the noise. Either a closet, under a piece of furniture or in his crate.

Tip 2: Make Toys and Long-Lasting Treats Available

Keep toys and long-lasting treats in your pet’s safe area to make the area more fun and to provide distractions from loud noises and flashes.

Tip 3: Exercise Earlier in the Day is Key

Make time to exercise your pet during daylight hours; then, keep them safely indoors before the fireworks begin.

Tip 4: Turn Up the Music, but Not Too Loud

At dusk, close your windows and curtains and turn on music or the television to muffle the loud noises that accompany social gatherings and the booming thunder from fireworks.

Tip 5: Watch Their Body Language:

Pets convey fear by shivering, cowering, tucking their tail between the legs, and averting their eyes. Looming over a fearful dog will only make it more anxious; and unless a dog is likely to get hurt it is often best to leave a fearful dog alone because its behavior when scared is uncertain. Overall, you know your pet best, and recognizing the cues they give you through their body language will help to determine the best way to make them as comfortable as possible.


“Enjoy the July 4th festivities with your family and friends, but don’t forget about your furry loved ones,” Dr. Schmid said. “Taking a few precautions can help protect your pet from a variety of dangers.”

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.