This week on Pet Lover Geek's From The Vault episode, Lorien talks with Doctor Charlotte Flint about what common items can be poisonous for your pet. Things as simple as lilies can be extremely toxic to cats, so make sure not to miss out on this episode to learn more about keeping your fur kids safe!
Pet Poison Helpline
Phone number: 1-800-213-6680
00:01 Lorien Clemens
Hello pet lovers and welcome to Pet Lover Geek. I'm Lorien Clemens and today's from the vault episode is all about pet safety during wintertime. Stick around through this short break and then we'll be back with a great episode for you.
00:30 Lorien Clemens
Doctor Flint welcome.
00:33 Dr. Charlotte Flint
Thank you. I'm excited to be on the show. Thanks for having us.
00:36 Lorien Clemens
I am excited too, and this is such, such an important topic and there's actually no way in an hour we can cover every one of the dangers that are out there, but I want to focus for a little bit on seasonal toxins; because it seems like every single season has its own set of potential poisonous things that are out there for our fur kids to be harmed by. For example, we're still in the deep throes of winter in some parts of the country, like up here in the Pacific Northwest, and we just had a huge snow and our cars are still needing things like antifreeze, and antifreeze is horribly dangerous, so tell us a little bit about that.
01:14 Dr. Charlotte Flint
Sure, well there are a couple of kinds of antifreeze that are out there on the market and then we'll deal with or hear about. The most dangerous kind is going to be, you know, kind of the traditional antifreeze that has something called ethylene glycol in it. Those are the types that are usually going to be in cars and it'll be in mixes with water, but it'll be the ethylene glycol types of antifreeze. There are some antifreeze's that are out there that aren't going to be quite as poisonous. Those are usually going to be kind of the pet safe antifreeze's is sometimes the marine and RV antifreeze is will be similar in ingredients too, those will usually have something else called propylene glycol in them and aren't going to be quite as dangerous. Though you know large amounts, again certainly could be an issue. It's the ethylene glycol traditional antifreeze that we really worry about and very small ingestion's can be a big issue for dogs and especially cats that get into it. What we worry about when pets get into antifreeze or the traditional like all types of antifreeze. Is that it does have the potential very rapidly to cause a lot of damage to the kidneys. The small ingestions, it's liquid, it gets absorbed rapidly. Cats and dogs can go into kidney failure and can have very life-threatening signs if we don't catch them and treat them very promptly.
02:33 Lorien Clemens
Right so if you do see your dog or your cat licking at a place where there might have been antifreeze, you get them to the vet immediately.
02:41 Dr. Charlotte Flint
I do usually recommend it. You know it's always hard to really quantify how much they licked, especially because it's kind of a puddle situation. They just have their face there. We usually really can't say how much was ingested. We have really good tests for antifreeze and so if there's a suspicion that a pet may have gotten into it, I think getting into the vet, getting some testing done, and getting that treatment started early is very, very important, especially with cats. Cats are exquisitely sensitive and the antidote for antifreeze needs to be started very, very quickly for them. Also with dogs, they have a little bit more time, but cats within hours we need to be right on top of it so you know any exposure I do usually recommend getting in and making sure that it's going to be safe. You know test and make sure they didn't get into enough of it, or getting that treatment started right away.
03:36 Lorien Clemens
I've read something on the Poison Helpline's blog about vodka as an antidote. What's that all about?
03:43 Dr. Charlotte Flint
Yes, there are a couple of different ways that we'll treat antifreeze poisonings in dogs and cats. Traditionally, there's been a medication called Fomepizole that we'll use. That one has been a little bit harder to find recently. It's kind of come off the market a little bit and it tend to be very expensive as well, and so many pets end up getting treated with something like vodka or something like Everclear. The very, very strong alcohols, and basically the reason that we use it, is that the way that the antifreeze ethylene glycol gets metabolized by the body, it's actually not the ethylene glycol itself that damages the kidneys. It's some of the other metabolites. Some of the other things that it breaks down into, and so we can actually use the alcohol, something like vodka or Everclear. Another very hard alcohol as a treatment to kind of change the way the body processes the ethylene glycol or the antifreeze and makes it a safer situation for that pet. They get drunk.
04:53 Lorien Clemens
Yeah and it's one of those things that we talked about like you shouldn't have the alcohol laying around for the pets 'cause it's not good for them at all, but in this case, it can actually save their life.
05:04 Dr. Charlotte Flint
It can. It can. Again, definitely it's something that we need to do in a very controlled situation.
05:08 Lorien Clemens
With your vet.
05:10 Dr. Charlotte Flint
In the hospital they need very specific amounts of it. We certainly make sure that you know things are safe and were not having any issues with the blood sugar or any other issues while they're getting it. So again, very controlled environment. It's not something that I would recommend doing at home, but it is kind of a cool thing that is on the shelf and shows that you know one of those things that we usually try to avoid sometimes has a potential benefit for pets too.
05:39 Lorien Clemens
It's crazy how the body works. Now let's also talk about ice melt because we just had, as I mentioned, a huge dump of snow. Unfortunately, there's still a thick sheet of ice underneath because we had some melt. So you know, ice melt is one of those things that we actually just talked about. Gosh, we're going to need some ice melt and I said, "Oh no, no, no, we can't use that because it's bad for the dogs." So talk about that.
06:01 Dr. Charlotte Flint
Sure, there are few different kinds of ice melts that are out there on the market too. Probably the ones that I try to avoid are the really true salt or sodium chloride types of melts. Those, if dogs ingest enough of it can cause some pretty serious electrolyte issues and certainly they can have things like some vomiting and it can be very irritating too. There are quite a few other kind of blends of different salts, sometimes they'll have calcium, sometimes they'll have magnesium chloride in it -- that you'll see another ice melts and usually are going to be less concerning overall, though again I you know would try to overall keep it away from pets. Usually those small ingestions where they kind of walked through some snow or walked over some ice that's been treated... lick the paws, that usually isn't going to be anything dangerous. They sometimes -- Dogs will have a little bit of mild vomiting or maybe a little diarrhea with that kind of situation, some drooling, you know, after I take my own dog outside, I'm here in Minnesota, so we definitely know about ice melt as well, but I'll try to just wipe those paws down and prevent those ice melts from being ingested, but fortunately, those you know kind of casual walking across the ice, walking across the treated sidewalk, kind of exposures in most cases are not going to be dangerous. I worry more about dogs that chew into a big bag of it in the garage and eat a lot of it.
07:24 Lorien Clemens
Right, yeah, and there's some of them out there that actually specifically call out that their pets safe. I mean are they really pet safe? Or are they just... they're better?
07:32 Dr. Charlotte Flint
I would say better. There are... I would say most of the pet safe ice melts have something called urea as the active ingredient in it and if they get into quite a lot of it, they can have some of those stomach upset symptoms, but usually are going to avoid some of the more severe effects like the electrolyte abnormalities with that. So again, kind of a common sense situation where I certainly wouldn't want my dog chewing into a bag of it, but I am probably not going to lose too much sleep if you know he walks across the ice and then licks his paws afterwards.
08:06 Lorien Clemens
Okay, cool, well, okay, now let's -- because we're all dreaming of spring right now. Let's talk about moving into spring. There's a lot of toxins that when the weather changes and our behaviors change and things we use in our house changes, you should be aware of. So talk about some of those top toxins for springtime.
08:23 Dr. Charlotte Flint
Sure, springtime, I you know here in Minnesota, I definitely start thinking about the gardening that we get to do. We're really excited about that when the snow melts and we can get outside. So a lot of times people have different, you know, plants that they are planting in their garden or in their yard, especially some of the bulb kind of plants. The lilies are starting to come up. The crocuses are coming up, daffodils, tulips are coming up which are you know, certainly beautiful, but if pets dig up those bulbs and eat a lot of the bulb material that sometimes can be an issue for them. Most of the time it's going to be, especially with the smaller ingestions, kind of a stomach upset symptom or set of symptoms, but we can sometimes see some more severe effects. With cats I always, always worry about lilies and with you know especially Easter coming up, you know making sure that lilies aren't coming into a home with cats I think is very, very important. I always try to avoid, you know, bringing any type of a true Lily like the Easter lilies, the stargazer lilies, the tiger lilies into to a home with cats. I never keep them in my home because any type of exposure, any small exposure, even just smelling the plant, getting the pollen on the face, licking the water from the basin, certainly chewing on those flowers or leaves can be dangerous and can cause kidney failure in cats. So usually again fortunately something we can treat if we can catch it early. With springtime and all the gardening that's going on we do, I think get a lot of calls also about things that people are using in their yard fertilizers or you know very commonly being put out. Sometimes people are putting out different insecticides or other pesticides too, and so those would be some other things that we get calls about frequently.
10:25 Lorien Clemens
Right, so just be highly aware of where your dog is at all times and his behavior in the yard and all of that kind of stuff. You know, what about too -- I know for us, spring cleaning, we try to do a big, you know, it's finally warm enough to be able to go out and shake out everything and all this stuff, and I've become more and more aware as we have a very curious pup. He wants to sniff everything, lick everything, I've been more and more aware about the products that I'm using when I'm cleaning, what kinds of things should we, you know, avoid, or at least make sure that the dog has no exposure to when we're doing a spring cleaning?
10:58 Dr. Charlotte Flint
Sure, I think with the cleaners a lot of them can be pretty safe, especially if it's a situation where you're, you know, just wiping down the counter, doing a little mop, and there's a little bit of you know residue that the dog or a cat comes and licks. I'm usually not going to be too concerned about that. The ones that I really try to avoid would be some of the you know very, very strong types of cleaners. Things like oven cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners can be you know, either extremely acidic or very, very alkaline where they can cause some burns with very small licks or ingestions. Another thing that has been in the news with kids and it also is a big issue with dogs. Would be the laundry pods. Those colorful little laundry pods have a very concentrated detergent. I do use them, and I like them, but I keep them out of reach because they are something that dogs like to kind of chew and bite into and those very, very strong detergents can cause a lot of stomach upset, and we do see it a fair amount of dogs that develop some pneumonia or they get some of that material in their lungs too which can be dangerous for them. So really it's the ones that I think about keeping very much out of reach would be the really strong toilet/oven cleaners and then especially the laundry pods too.
12:18 Lorien Clemens
Now you've mentioned this a lot since we've been talking... stomach upset, that seems to be a very, very common theme of everything. So talk about when your pet has a stomach upset, maybe you don't even know what the upset is being caused by, what are the major no-no's that you should be aware of, things you should not do when your dog has an upset stomach.
12:39 Dr. Charlotte Flint
You know, I think with an upset stomach there's so many various causes of vomiting and diarrhea in dogs and cats. I think it, you know, is always good to just at least touch base with your veterinarian and certainly sooner rather than later because of that risk of dehydration. When we start talking about some of the home remedies and things that people try and that I would recommend avoiding, we do sometimes see where a dog has some vomiting or diarrhea and people start thinking, "oh well maybe he's been poisoned." They get online, they start reading, and they start trying to, you know, induce vomiting even though their dog has been vomiting. So that's something that I generally wouldn't recommend. It's usually not going to be, you know, something that's going to be helpful once symptoms have started and I would definitely avoid giving anything like salt to induce vomiting or you know some of the other kind of odd things that we'll hear about sometimes. People sometimes use, you know, very strange things like mustard or raw eggs or even motor oil and I definitely would avoid those things. Sometimes people will reach for Pepto Bismol, helps people with a stomach upset, kind of set of symptoms, and that's something I generally don't recommend in dogs, and definitely not in cats. It actually has some aspirin like compounds, and it rarely is going to be helpful. It rarely is going to fix the problem and has the potential depending on the cause to sometimes make things worse.
14:06 Lorien Clemens
Make things worse, yeah. Yeah doctor Google is not a good place to go for how to treat your pet for sure. Your first stop should definitely be your veterinarian and then also tell people how they can get ahold of your organization and how they can find it.
14:24 Dr. Charlotte Flint
Sure, so we're Pet Poison Helpline and we are at 24 hour, seven day a week, you know, nights, weekends, holidays, we're here; Poison Control Center for Animals and our phone number is probably the best way to reach us. We are at 1800-213-6680 and again we are here and staffed fully with veterinary professionals and veterinarians 24 hours a day. We do have a website as well where we have some general information for pet owners. You know, some great tips on some of the things we've talked about today and and many other subjects having to do with poisonings and pets, and our website is www.petpoisonhelpline.com. So that can be another great resource for pet owners as well.
15:11 Lorien Clemens
Awesome, thank you so much Doctor Flint, I really appreciate you taking the time today to spend with us.
15:15 Dr. Charlotte Flint
Oh, you're very welcome. We're happy to chat and get some of this information out there to help pets.
15:21 Lorien Clemens
Totally. Absolutely fantastic, important information that everybody needed to hear today, and to our listeners, thanks for joining us today. Make sure you leave a comment below for any cool or geeky ideas that you want us to cover in future episodes, and like always, give those fur babies a hug from me. I'm Lorien Clemens and this has been Pet Lover Geek powered by PetHub!