Protecting Your Coworkers When They’re Animals – Literally

The Details

The advantages of taking your dog to work are well known. For the employee, it relieves stress, helps build the human/animal bond, can reduce doggy daycare costs and can help develop new friendships in the office. For employers, it improves morale and helps with employee hiring and retention. Without careful supervision, however, your dog’s visit to your office can also lead to a trip to the pet emergency hospital.

“National Take Your Dog to Work Day is on June 21 this year,” said Dr. Renee Schmid, a senior veterinary toxicologist and director of Veterinary Medicine at Pet Poison Helpline. “Before you walk Fido through your office doors, however, be sure you’re prepared. Just as you do at home, you need to pet-proof your office location and surroundings, and keep a very close eye on your pet at all times. It’s very easy to get distracted by a phone call or while on the computer, and not notice they’ve gotten into something or wandered off.”

Some people are fortunate enough to be able to take their dog to work regularly. Sara Reeves and her basset hound named Pippa live in Milton, Georgia, about a 45 minute drive from Atlanta. Reeves is a high school veterinary science teacher and is able to take Pippa to work with her almost every day.

“She’s actually sleeping under my desk right now,” Reeves said with a smile in her voice. “We are fortunate to have a working veterinary lab at our high school, so our goal is to give students enough knowledge and tangible skills to become a veterinary technician while they work towards becoming veterinarians or some other profession. Pippa’s presence is part of their education.”

While having a dog at work can relieve stress, it can also cause anxiety if they get into trouble.

“Pippa does not love her kennel, so she tends to stick by me,” Reeves explained. “One day I went into the restroom and Pippa followed me. When I went into my stall, I could hear Pippa drinking from the toilet next to me. The restroom had been recently cleaned, so the toilet bowls still had blue water in them from the cleaning chemicals. Besides freaking out for a second, I knew immediately that Pippa may need treatment.”

As a veterinary science teacher, Reeves not only knew she needed toxicology help, but she also knew to call Pet Poison Helpline even before heading to the veterinary hospital. This allows the toxicologists to work on a treatment plan while Reeves drove Pippa to the hospital.

“Once at Veterinary Emergency Group in Alpharetta, Georgia, Reeves gave the hospital team her Pet Poison Helpline case number, which provides both the pet owner and hospital staff with unlimited consultations with our toxicology team,” Dr. Schmid explained. “The industrial toilet cleaner Pippa drank contained alkalis, which can cause significant damage to tissue. Fortunately, we determined that the concentration of chemicals in the toilet water was not enough to cause corrosive injury, so Pippa was given an anti-emetic and other gastrointestinal protectants, was encouraged to drink water to dilute what was in her system and sent home to recuperate.”

Exposure to alkalis can result in a range of signs, from mild tissue irritation to severe corrosive or caustic injury. The severity can vary based on the concentration of the product. When ingested, this leads to damage in the mouth, esophagus, and gastrointestinal tract. Significant exposures can result in perforations to the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract that can have fatal consequences. These chemicals are not only found in industrial cleaners, but in materials like wet cement and industrial pipe and drain cleaners. Alkalis can also be found in many household products like bleach, automatic dishwasher detergents, hair relaxers, oven cleaners, lye and drain cleaners. Treatment for alkalis includes immediate decontamination by flushing the exposed area with large amounts of water, medications to protect the gastrointestinal tract, fluid therapy and symptomatic and supportive care.

“When taking your dog or other pet to work, be just as vigilant about potential dangers as you would be at home or on a trip,” Dr. Schmid added. “Also, think about how your pet will interact with your coworkers. For example, if your pet has a special diet or allergies, be sure and share that with your coworkers so they don’t give them any unapproved treats. If your pet has behavioral issues such as anxiety in unfamiliar or busy places, consider whether they will be comfortable in the workplace or better kept in a quiet home environment. Also, if your pet is scared around strangers and has a tendency to snap at well-meaning admirers, keeping your pet home is ideal to avoid potential injury to your co-workers.”

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.