Would you like to understand your dog better? Then it’s essential that you know what a dog is trying to communicate through its barks. We explain in plain English what the 5 most common dog barks actually mean.
Would you like to understand your dog better? Then it’s essential that you know what a dog is trying to communicate through its barks. We explain in plain English what the 5 most common dog barks actually mean.
Our dogs are just as susceptible to environmentally triggered allergies—they just can’t tell us how they feel. Seasonal allergies are a huge problem in veterinary medicine. Because allergies in dogs are so common, there’s a good chance your dog could be suffering. Here is a list of signs your pet may have seasonal allergies.
One of the most common symptoms people bring in their pets for is itchiness. Dogs often react bys cratching or biting themselves to relieve the itching. They are just scratching like crazy, and their skin is red and inflamed.
While the best thing to do if your dog is scratching or biting is take him to the vet, a bath using mild shampoo can offer temporary relief. If the allergy is related to trees, pollen, or grass, then that can help wash these triggers off of them.
One of the more serious side effects of allergies in dogs is a skin infection, which is usually related to chronic scratching. Most pets develop red, itchy skin and secondary skin infections.
A trip to a veterinarian is a good idea, but in the meantime, clean your dog’s skin with witch hazel, which is “soothing and drying,” applying cool green or black tea bags to the skin, or moisturizing with coconut oil. If the infection has a very bad odor or the pet is lethargic, lacks appetite, or is not clearing within 48 hours, a trip to the veterinarian is warranted.
Also related to allergy-induced itching and skin infection is “hair loss and increased shedding.” Dandruff is also a common side effect of allergies, since they can severely dry out the skin and cause it to flake.
If your dog is scratching enough to prompt hair loss, it’s probably time to take them to the vet. “If your pet is really bothered by this, please talk to your vet,” Truitt stresses. “There are a lot of really good prescription medications that we can start your pet on, and we can put together a plan.
Compulsive paw licking is a common sign of allergies in dogs. “Facial rubbing” is a similar behavior that’s related to histamines, or chemicals in the immune system triggered by allergies.
When dogs have allergies, they push out the histamines and they push them towards their extremities, such as their ears, paws, anal region, or face.
If you’re like many dog owners, you’ve witnessed the terror that summer storms can strike in your pet. “Thunder phobia” most commonly develops in dogs between ages two and four, according to animal behaviorist Patricia McConnell. This fear can manifest as a variety of challenging behaviors—hiding, whining, scratching, slobbering, or tearing down door frames in a state of panic—and it can get worse with age.
What’s important to remember is that dogs suffering from thunderstorm fear are not misbehaving, says animal behaviorist Lindsay Wood of the Boulder Valley Humane Society. They’re displaying symptoms of anxiety.
Vets and animal specialists aren’t certain exactly what part of a storm causes dogs the most discomfort – the noise, the flashing lights, or something else entirely. Some dogs may be worriers in general and panic at any change, while others may be overly sensitive to sound, according to CJ Bentley of the Michigan Humane Society. Dogs also possess special sensitivities that make storms even more terrifying: dogs can sense the change in air pressure, and may hear low-frequency rumblings that humans can’t detect. Some vets also believe dogs experience shocks from the buildup of static electricity that accompanies thunderstorms.
To help your dog cope with stormy weather, Cynthia Bolte , who works on the animal behavior team at Purina, offers the following tips:
There are a few products that might help your dog relax as well.
Tight jackets such as the Thundershirt provide a sensation of pressure, which can alleviate pets’ anxiety. (Swaddling a baby operates on the same principle.) You can also make a DIY version by buying a small T-shirt and putting the dog’s front legs through the armholes of the shirt. The shirt should fit snugly around your dog’s torso.
Your veterinarian is the best person to talk to when it comes to helping your dog cope with storms. He or she will be best equipped to pinpoint exactly which stimulus is troubling your pet.
Most importantly, practice positive reinforcement with your dog. Do not scold or punish her for her displays of anxiety, but remember that her behavior is not about disobedience, but about high levels of fear. And that old saw about not comforting your dog because it “reinforces” the fear? Not true at all. Do anything you can to help your dog feel better; teaching her new, pleasant associations is the best way to reduce fearful behavior.
We hope these tips help you and your dog weather the season’s storms.
The first few days of a puppy’s life may not be action-packed (it’s a whole lot of sleeping, eating, and pooping, as is the case with most newborns). But there are some things new pet parents should know to ensure their pups grow into healthy and happy dogs.
Puppies develop and grow inside their mother’s womb for approximately two months. This is the normal gestation period (or length of pregnancy) for dogs. In the sense of development, “a newborn puppy is not unlike a premature child.
At birth, puppies are unable to regulate body temperature, or even urinate or defecate on their own. Puppies depend on their mother and littermates for warmth, huddling in cozy piles to conserve body temperature.
Puppies can’t see or hear for the first two weeks of their lives, but they can make puppy noises. “They’ll vocalize right from the beginning. When they are born, the mom will lick the placenta off to stimulate them.
At around 10 days, they’ll start to open their eyes, even though they aren’t fully formed yet. All puppies are born with a blue-gray color to their eyes, their “true” eye color will be evident at around 10 weeks. Most newborn puppies can hear a little bit when they are born. However, their ears are still closed until about 14 days of age.
Newborn puppies eat every two hours. Even without vision, puppies use their reflexes and instincts to find their mother’s nipple to nurse.
In between feedings, they sleep about 90 percent of the day, or 22 hours.
Puppies have sharp little nails when they are born. It’s typically best to wait until 4 to 6 weeks of age to clip their nails, but this can be done sooner if they are hurting the mother. They are also born with hair and fur, but the amount depends on the breed. When they’re born, they have a puppy coat.
As they grow over their first year, dogs that shed will shed out their puppy coats and grow their adult coat. Their teeth start coming in at around 4 weeks old. Between 3 and 4 months old, they begin to lose their baby teeth to make way for their adult teeth.
If you suspect that your dog’s daily roll in the grass is causing allergic reactions, such as excessive paw licking and rigorous belly scratching, you may be surprised to learn that he could actually have a food allergy.
While it’s common for dogs to suffer from seasonal allergies to things like the pollen they come in contact with while playing in the yard, there are several types of dog allergies that can manifest themselves in similar ways, said Dr. Sarah Nold, on-staff veterinarian for Trupanion, a Seattle-based insurance company.
“Food allergies and environmental allergies can cause similar symptoms. These symptoms can include itchiness, hair loss, skin infections and ear infections. In addition, there are other conditions that can cause similar symptoms. This is why your vet may need to start with diagnostics to first rule out skin mites, fungal infections and endocrine disease, such as hypothyroidism and Cushing’s,” Nold said.
Dr. Joseph Bartges, a veterinary nutritionist and professor of medicine and nutrition at the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine, said that seasonal allergies typically occur during certain times of the year while food allergies have no seasonality.
They do overlap, however, and approximately 30 percent of pets with food-responsive disease also have seasonal allergies or allergies to fleas, he said. Many of these allergies present themselves either with skin problems (like itchiness, recurrent infections, ear infections or hair loss) and/or gastrointestinal signs (like vomiting, diarrhea or decreased appetite), he added.
Since many of the signs and symptoms of allergies in dogs are not unique to either type of allergy, treatment may require a bit of educated trial and error to pinpoint the exact cause of your dog’s allergy. A visit to your vet should always be your first step. Here are some general guidelines to help dog owners understand food and seasonal allergies.
Many owners may not immediately suspect their dog has a food allergy because it can take years for their dog to develop an allergy to the food it is fed everyday. Food hypersensitivity can occur at any age in a dog’s life.
Dr. Patrick Mahaney, a holistic veterinarian, says one possible indicator of a food allergy can be the location of the skin problems. “If you notice lesions all over your dog’s body, on the flanks, ribs, hips or knees there’s a big chance it’s a food allergy,” he said.
Other symptoms include recurrent ear infections, vomiting, diarrhea and itchiness that can lead to self trauma such as hair loss, scabs or hot spots (areas that have been repeatedly licked or chewed and have become inflamed). Gastrointestinal issues are usually symptoms that are specifically related to possible food allergies.
Your vet will likely want to start with a review of your dog’s dietary history. It’s important to include the foods that make up his daily meals as well as any treats. Many dogs are allergic to chicken, dairy, beef, eggs, corn, soy and wheat as well as some of the additives contained in commercial brands of dog food.
Bartges says your vet may suggest eliminating certain proteins and substituting them for a novel protein, or a protein source that the dog has not been exposed to, such as duck, fish or kangaroo. Other options include a hydrolysate diet (where the protein source has been pre-digested to small pieces that are too small for the immune system to recognize), or to a homemade diet of either cooked or raw food.
It can take a few months to see an improvement in your dog’s food allergies, Nold said, but it’s important to diligently stick to the prescribed diet and to completely eliminate any treats and table scraps. Even certain medications can be flavored, Nold said, so make sure to discuss all medications your dog may be taking with your veterinarian to ensure they’re an approved part of the diet.
If your dog does well and shows no signs of an allergic reaction, you can gradually add in other kinds of food. But if he shows no sign of improvement, regardless of the food source, it may be time to consider that he could be suffering from a seasonal allergy.
Seasonal allergies generally occur at certain times of the year. Some of the common causes of seasonal allergies include dust, dust mites, pollen, grass and flea bites. Mahaney said that lesions on the top or underside of your dog’s feet often point to environmental allergies.
Your dog’s climate and environment can have a major impact on if they have seasonal allergies or not, he said. “In Los Angeles, for instance, it’s always warm, so things are blooming year round which can expose your dog to more allergies. But in New Jersey, things bloom in the spring, then they’re gone in the winter.”
Regardless of where your dog lives, it’s still possible for him to develop year-round allergies.
“Allergies can occur at certain times of the year, but they can turn into year-round allergies for older dogs. The more your dog is exposed to the allergens he’s sensitive to, the more intense and long-lasting his allergic response becomes,” Nold said.
There are a number of ways that seasonal allergies can be diagnosed and treated, most of which depend on the allergen itself. These include:
Overall, getting to the root of your dog’s allergy can take a bit of educated detective work. The most important thing is to seek help from your vet and not to get discouraged with the process.
“It can be frustrating if something isn’t working [but] there’s always something else we can try,” Nold said. “It might seem like you didn’t accomplish anything, but your dog’s response to therapy is helpful in determining the next step. We can find a plan to help your pet.”
Puppies need to be socialized before they are 16 weeks old. Owners tend to isolate their puppies at that time and expect that at a year, they’ll get them used to cars and different environments.
The ideal time for this kind of puppy training is between 3 and 12 weeks of age. The window of opportunity to socialize your dog usually closes around 18 weeks. Even if you adopt an adult dog, they can get used to individuals they see on a regular basis.
Think about who and what a puppy will be around when it gets older and make a long list the things your pet needs to be socialized to.
That means children, adults, men, women, crying babies, people of different nationalities, crowds, people wearing hats, and people not wearing hats. The wider the variety of people you can expose your puppy to, the better.
Have your puppy walk on grass, concrete, through buildings like pet stores, on busy streets, quiet streets, areas with other animals — and near cars, trucks, buses, and trains.
You can even take your dog for rides in the car through different areas of town, through fast-food drive-thrus, and through car washes. This is also the time to get your dog used to be handled during grooming.
We all know the feeling of an itch that won’t go away. Whether it’s due to a bug bite, dry skin, or an allergic reaction, itching can be a real pain. But what happens when your dog won’t stop scratching, licking, or chewing on himself?
“Dogs manifest itching in a variety of ways,” says Dr. Andrew Rosenberg, a board certified veterinary dermatologist and the medical director of Animal Dermatology & Allergy Specialists in White Plains, New York, and Riverdale, New Jersey. “A lot of times, we’ll just see dogs licking at their paws as their way of relieving itch.” Other not-so-common signs may include scooting, rolling around on the ground, and crawling on their bellies, he says.
Allergies are a common cause of itchy skin in dogs, according to Rosenberg. He cites three major allergy categories: environmental (grass, weed, trees, dust, etc.); flea, tick, or bug bites; and food allergies.
Dogs having allergic reactions tend to be itchy around their paws, ears, groin area, and rear ends, he says. With other skin diseases like flea allergies, dogs scratch and bite more on their rump area. Dogs experiencing an autoimmune skin disease or skin infection can be itchy anywhere.
Occasional or mild itching by itself isn’t too serious, but it could be a sign of a more serious condition when accompanied by other symptoms, Rosenberg says. He recommends that pet parents consult their veterinarian or seek the help of a veterinary dermatologist “if there’s itching that’s chronic and the dog is breaking its skin and that results in skin infection. Or if the dog is just uncomfortable, itching to the point where they can’t sleep at night.”
To give your itchy dog some relief, consider these five natural remedies offered by our vet experts. It’s wise to consult a veterinarian before starting on any therapy, Rosenberg advises. “We want to make sure we’re recommending things that are going to help with the individual dog.” If the treatment doesn’t appear to be effective or if the condition worsens, seek professional help.
“Omega-3 fatty acids in general can help reduce inflammation,” Rosenberg says. You can administer omega-3s topically like you would a spot-on flea medication, give them orally, or spray the essential fatty acids on the spot directly. In addition to reducing itchiness, omega-3s also might help a dog with dry skin.
Feeding a fish and sweet potato diet might help your itchy dog, suggests Dr. Diane Richter, owner of Compassion Veterinary Hospital in Bradford, New Hampshire, who practices both Western and alternative medicines.
Richter recommends fish because most dogs with food allergies are allergic to proteins commonly found in dog foods, such as chicken, beef, or turkey. Another perk of feeding your dog fish is that certain types are high in omega-3 fatty acids. “You’re picking a protein source that’s going to get more fatty acids and oils into the diet,” Richter says. This can decrease inflammation in the skin and help with potential food allergies, she adds.
She also frequently sees dogs with wheat and gluten sensitivities. Sweet potatoes provide the carbohydrates that dogs need in their diets, but lack the wheat that might trigger an allergic reaction, Richter says.
Richter suggests trying the diet for six weeks and only feeding that diet. For variety, you can make treats using salmon or sweet potatoes, she says. Richter also recommends buying a commercial dog food with fish and sweet potatoes (as opposed to making it yourself) since it’s tough to get all the nutrients your dog needs into a home-cooked diet.
To help calm your dog’s irritation, you can grind plain oatmeal into a fine paste and spread it onto his skin, Richter suggests. “The oatmeal itself seems to draw that heat out and dry that moist, red, hot skin and cool it down.”
Oatmeal is non-toxic, so there is no need to worry if your pet licks it off. Alternately, you can purchase dog shampoo with oatmeal as an ingredient, Richter says. Bathing your pet with an oatmeal shampoo has the added benefit of removing potential allergic triggers, like pollen and mold spores, that get trapped in the fur.
Lavender, tea tree, and calendula flower oils have anti-inflammatory properties that can help dogs, Richter says.
She cautions that tea tree oil can be toxic if ingested, so it’s important to watch your dog to make sure he doesn’t lick it off and always dilute it before use. Concentrated tea tree oil can be quite dangerous for dogs. If you’ve never used essential oils on your dog before, consider doing a patch test with a small, diluted drop to ensure he doesn’t have a bad reaction. By Teresa Traverse
If your dog had the wherewithal to make out a list of his least favorite things to do, getting a bath would probably be close to the top. Since dog baths tend to be messy, time-consuming and not a whole lot of fun for everyone involved, it’s natural to wonder, “How often should I bathe my dog?”
As is often the case, the answer is “It depends.”
“Dogs groom themselves to help facilitate the growth of hair follicles and to support skin health,” says Dr. Adam Denish of Rhawnhurst Animal Hospital in Elkins Park, Penn. “However, bathing is needed for most dogs to supplement the process. But bathing too often can be detrimental to your pet as well. It can irritate the skin, damage hair follicles, and increase the risk of bacterial or fungal infections.”
Dr. Jennifer Coates, veterinary advisor with petMD, adds, “the best bath frequency depends on the reason behind the bath. Healthy dogs who spend most of their time inside may only need to be bathed a few times a year to control natural ‘doggy odors.’ On the other hand, frequent bathing is a critical part of managing some medical conditions, like allergic skin disease.”
Whether your dog willingly hops in the tub for a scrubbing, or fights you tooth and nail every bath day – here are a few things to know that can make bath time easier.
How often you should wash your dog depends on a number of factors, including his health, breed, coat, and activity level, as well as where these activities are taking place. Dogs who spend the day outside rolling around in things they shouldn’t are going to need a bath far more often than ones who spend most of their time on the couch. Or, as Mari Rozanski, of Plush Pups Boutique in Huntingdon Valley, Penn., puts it, just use your nose.
“If your dog comes into the room and you can smell him, he needs a bath,” says Rozanski. If your dog is covered in dirt or dried mud, a thorough brushing (outside if possible!) followed by a bath is usually your best option.
“I always bathe the body first and head last, as dogs tend to shake once their head is wet” says Rozanski. “Just because a shampoo says tearless or tear-free, do not put it directly in the eyes, rather wash around the eyes and rinse right away.”
Coates adds that if baths are part of a dog’s medical treatment plan, “your veterinarian should give you guidance on how often to bathe and what product to use.”
Rozanski has bathed barkers of all stripes, from Chihuahuas to Great Danes. She’s seen pet bathing fads come and go and says that keeping your dog clean is more than simply lather, rinse and repeat.
“Bathing dogs is not as simple as it seems. There are so many different types of dogs and coats which each need to be addressed separately, because of varying textures and lengths. In a salon, the groomer can address these distinctions, but at home, a pet owner may not realize the difference.”
For example, she says, a Shetland Sheepdog is a double-coated dog with thick, shedding hair. This breed requires a good soaking and moisturizing with lots of water and a lot of brushing and combing before, during, and after the bath, then a dog-specific conditioner, rinse and high velocity blow dry.
If you simply don’t have the time, space or desire to wash your dog at home, there is no shame in calling in an expert.
Some differences between human and canine skin are obvious, but one that isn’t, skin pH, is arguably the most important when it comes to picking out the right bathing product.
“Human skin is very acidic, coming in at a pH of under 5 in most cases,” says Coates. “But dog skin is much closer to a pH of 7, meaning that it is essentially neutral – not strongly acidic or strongly alkaline.”
Therefore, some products that are specifically designed for human skin could be quite irritating to canine skin. For routine baths, Coates recommends using a mild, moisturizing dog shampoo. “Oatmeal-based shampoos are a good choice for many healthy dogs,” she says.
According to Denish, dogs can have negative reactions to shampoos and other products, even if they’re specifically made for dogs. “I have seen many pets that have had reactions to topical shampoos, rinses and conditioners. Reactions typically are either skin-mediated or from actual ingestion of the shampoo.”
Clinical signs of a skin reaction can include red, itchy skin and hives. Ingestion of pet shampoo can cause symptoms like vomiting, drooling and decreased appetite, Denish says. If you notice these symptoms, he recommends re-washing your dog with warm water only and reaching out to your veterinarian for next steps.
If you’re unsure of which type of shampoo to buy, talk to your veterinarian, who knows your pets and their medical history and is in the best position to provide individualized recommendations. This is especially true if your dog suffers from a skin condition.
“I separate shampoos into two types-basic grooming and medicated shampoos. As a veterinarian, I believe that real medicated shampoos should be recommended and dispensed by your pet’s doctor,” Denish says.
Learn more about the most common bath-time mistakes pet owners make.
House plants are popular additions to many rooms. Usually, plants and dogs live together harmoniously, although some curious pets often venture to take a little taste. Listed below are 20 of the most popular houseplants and their levels of toxicity.
There are hundreds of items your dog can get access to. Some things are highly toxic and others are non-toxic. This article is a guide to help you determine if a particular item is a problem and link you on to more in-depth information. Be sure to look at the related articles, which can be found on the right-hand side of the page.
If you think your dog may have been exposed to a toxin, the best thing to do is to check the label of the item you think your pet ingested. Read the information about toxicity. Often, but not always, the information on packaging regarding children is relevant to dogs and some manufacturers even discuss dog toxicity. If there is an 800 number on the package – call them! It’s also recommended that you call your veterinarian to confirm the recommendations. If you go to your veterinarian, take all packaging and any information you have on the product.
General Information. For most poisonings, there is not much you can do at home. Consult your veterinarian or veterinary emergency facility if you suspect your pet has been poisoned. For some ingested poisons, your veterinarian may recommend inducing vomiting before bringing the pet in for examination and treatment. Inducing vomiting of a toxic substance should never be done unless specifically directed by a veterinarian. For topical exposures, bathing in lukewarm water with a mild dish soap can reduce further toxin absorption before the pet is examined and treated by a veterinarian.
Non-toxic Items Commonly Eaten by Dogs. Chewing on things is a normal part of puppyhood so before you rush your pooch to the veterinarian, here is a list of some commonly eaten and, thankfully, non-toxic items. If your pup chews any of these, don’t worry about toxicity. The only real concern is the potential for obstruction if the object or container becomes lodged in the stomach or intestines. Also, you can expect some vomiting and maybe even a little diarrhea from eating a non-food item.
Amitraz. Amitraz is an insecticide used in some brands of dog tick collars and topical solutions. Toxicity most often affects curious puppies who ingest the poison but can occur from wearing the tick collar or receiving demodectic mange treatment. Typical symptoms begin within about 2 to 6 hours of ingestion and often begin with the pet becoming weak and lethargic. Vomiting, diarrhea and disorientation are also common. Without treatment, coma may result. In severe untreated cases, toxicity may result in death. Call and see your veterinarian for treatment.
Amphetamines. Amphetamines are human medications that are commonly used as appetite suppressants and mood elevators or for the treatment of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders. Amphetamines must be prescribed by a physician, but because they are popular as appetite suppressants and mood elevators, they are often purchased illegally. Amphetamines are nervous system stimulants that also affect the brain. After ingestion, toxic signs are usually seen within one to two hours. Common signs include restlessness, hyperactivity, agitation, tremors and seizures. Prompt veterinary treatment for amphetamine toxicity is crucial and will give your pet a better chance of full recovery. If left untreated, amphetamine toxicity can be fatal.
Ant Traps. If an ant trap is ingested, the only real concern is the potential for obstruction if the object or container becomes lodged in the stomach or intestines. Most ant and roach traps are made from either sticky paper or chlorpyrifos, which has a low level of toxicity in mammals but is highly toxic to insects. Also, you can expect some vomiting and maybe even a little diarrhea from eating a non-food item.
Antifreeze. Ethylene glycol toxicosis is a type of poisoning that occurs after ingestion of antifreeze or other fluids containing the ingredient ethylene glycol. Ethylene glycol itself is not toxic, but it is metabolized in the animal’s body to several extremely toxic chemicals that are responsible for its potentially lethal effects. Ethylene glycol poisoning results in nervous system abnormalities and severe kidney failure with almost complete cessation of urine output. Ethylene glycol poisoning can be fatal if not treated soon after ingestion (within 4 to 8 hours). The minimum lethal dose for dogs averages five milliliters per kilogram of body weight. Thus, a little more than three tablespoons (or 45 milliliters) could be lethal for a 22 pound (10 kg) dog. Definitive treatment should be started as soon as possible after consumption of ethylene glycol (within a few hours). If treated promptly and appropriately, pets that have consumed ethylene glycol will not develop kidney failure and have a good chance of survival. Signs to watch for include: nausea, vomiting, increased thirst, lethargy and incoordination progressing to coma. Pets may act as if they are intoxicated. These signs develop within 30 minutes to 12 hours after ingestion of ethylene glycol depending on the amount ingested.
Aspirin. Aspirin toxicity (salicylate toxicity) is poisoning that occurs following the ingestion of aspirin or aspirin-containing products. Cats and young animals are more susceptible to the effects of aspirin than are dogs because they are unable to metabolize the drug as quickly. Aspirin interferes with platelets, which are responsible for helping the blood to clot. Disruption of platelet function increases the amount of time it takes the blood to clot after being cut. Spontaneous bleeding may also occur causing pinpoint bruises to appear in the skin and on the gums (petechiae). Aspirin toxicity may cause gastrointestinal problems, respiratory difficulties, neurological problems, bleeding disorders and kidney failure. Gastrointestinal problems are common in dogs whereas central nervous system depression is most common in cats.
Arsenic. Although a common poison in the days of Agatha Christie, arsenic is somewhat difficult to obtain and animal poisonings are rare. Usually, poisoning is due to the ingestion of very old insect traps. Since 1989, the use of arsenic in insect traps has greatly diminished but there are still some out there. The lethal dose is 1 to 25 mg per kilogram of weight, and signs of poisoning include severe vomiting, diarrhea and nausea. If caught early, most pets are treated and recover. If treatment is delayed and the signs of illness are severe, pets usually do not survive. If your pet has ingested an insect trap, make sure to check the label to see if arsenic is present and call your veterinarian.
Bathroom Cleaners, Bleach, Lysol and Other Corrosives. Household cleaners can cause very serious “chemical burns.” Most often these chemicals are ingested or licked by dogs causing a caustic or corrosive burn usually affecting the tongue and upper esophagus. If chemical ingestion is witnessed, immediately flush the mouth with large amounts of water. This can help reduce the amount of chemical in the mouth and may reduce the damage. Chemical oral burns may not show up immediately. Call your veterinarian for additional treatment recommendations. Common signs include: lack of appetite, drooling, pawing at the mouth and excessive swallowing.
Carbon Monoxide. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, that when absorbed into the bloodstream, forms a compound that causes hypoxia (reduced oxygen supply) of the heart and brain. Dogs can be exposed by automotive exhaust in a closed garage, faulty exhaust system, non-vented furnace, gas water heater, gas/kerosene space heater and/or smoke inhalation from a fire. Some pets are predisposed to toxicity due to preexisting heart or lung disease. Symptoms of toxicity include drowsiness, lethargy, weakness, incoordination, bright red color to the skin and gums, difficulty breathing, coma and/or abrupt death. Occasionally, chronic (low-grade, long-term) exposure may cause exercise intolerance, changes in gait (walking) and disturbances of normal reflexes. Be aware that if the source of poisoning still exists, both you and your dog are at risk. Prevent toxicity by minimizing exposure and using carbon monoxide detectors around your home.
Carbamate Insecticides. Carbamates are a type of insecticides used to treat insects on our crops and soils, prevent and treat flea infestations and are used in ant and roach baits. The majority of toxicities in dogs related to this chemical are due to improper use of the chemical, especially when many different types of insecticides are used at the same time. The dog formula should never be used on cats. Carbamates affect the nerve-muscle junctions. Without a normal nerve impulse through the muscle, the function of the muscle is impaired. Since muscle tissue is present in the intestinal tract as well as the heart and skeleton, various signs may be seen if a pet is exposed to toxic levels of this insecticide. Symptoms include: vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, difficulty breathing, muscles tremors, twitching, weakness and paralysis. Prompt veterinary care is required to survive a toxic exposure.
Chocolate. Chocolate, in addition to having a high fat content, contains caffeine and theobromine. These two compounds are nervous system stimulants and can be toxic to your dog in high amounts. The levels of caffeine and theobromine vary between different types of chocolate. For example, white chocolate has the lowest concentration of stimulants and baking chocolate or cacao beans have the highest concentration. Depending on the type of chocolate ingested and the amount eaten, various problems can occur. The high fat content in chocolate may result in vomiting and possibly diarrhea. Once toxic levels are eaten, the stimulant effect becomes apparent. You may notice restlessness, hyperactivity, muscle twitching, increased urination and possibly excessive panting. Heart rate and blood pressure levels may also be increased. Seizure activity may occur in severe cases.
Cocaine. Cocaine is rapidly absorbed from the stomach, nasal passages and lungs. Following exposure the cocaine usually leaves the system within four to six hours. The lethal dose of cocaine in dogs is 25 mg per pound of body weight. Dogs exposed to cocaine show signs of intermittent hyperactivity followed by profound lethargy. Some may develop seizures. Treatment is aimed at supporting the body systems. Inducing vomiting is not helpful since cocaine is so rapidly absorbed. Hospitalization with intravenous fluids and sedatives are typical treatments. Depending on the severity of illness, amount ingested and time lapsed before treatment, some pets exposed to cocaine do not survive.
Detergents and Soaps. Most soaps and detergents are generally non-toxic. You can expect some vomiting and maybe even a little diarrhea from eating a non-food item. Read the container for additional information. If ingestion is witnessed, you may flush the mouth with large amounts of water.
Ecstasy. Ecstasy, also known by various street names such as XTC, Adam and MDA, is chemically related to other amphetamines, which stimulate the central nervous system. After ingestion by dogs, signs of toxicity generally develop within one to two hours and last longer in pets than in humans due to the animal’s inability to metabolize the drug. Symptoms include hyperactivity, restlessness, drooling, tremors, staggering, seizures, and if no treatment is given, coma and death ensue.
Estrogen Toxicity. Estrogen toxicity is a condition in which a group of estrogen compounds (female hormones), either produced in excess within the body or administered from the outside, become poisonous to the body of dogs. Estrogen toxicity is seen most commonly in reproductive-age females and older. Symptoms can include: lethargy, pale gums, bleeding, fever, thin hair coat and feminization (female sex characteristics) in males.
Ethanol. Ethanol is an alcohol that is used commonly as a solvent (liquid that dissolves) in medications and is the major ingredient of alcoholic beverages. Common causes of toxicity in dogs include direct access to alcoholic beverages or spilled medication, ingestion of fermented products (bread), intentional or malicious administration by human beings and/or dermal (skin) exposure to these products. Toxicity can cause a wide variety of signs and may lead to death. Signs can include: odor of alcohol on the animal’s breath or stomach contents, incoordination, staggering, behavioral change, excitement or depression, excessive urination and/or urinary incontinence, slow respiratory rate, cardiac arrest and death. If you suspect your pet has ingested a form of ethanol, please call your veterinarian for additional instructions.
Fuel. Gasoline is not a commonly ingested toxin, most likely due to its odor. If ingested, unleaded gasoline irritates the gastrointestinal tract and may cause vomiting. Some dogs may inhale stomach contents as they vomit, resulting in aspiration pneumonia. To develop signs of toxicity, the amount of gasoline that needs to be ingested is around 20 ml per kilogram of weight. For a 20 pound dog, that is about 1/2 cup. Diesel fuel and jet fuel may also cause gastrointestinal upset but have less toxicity than unleaded gasoline.
Glow Jewelry. The active ingredient in most glow jewelry and other glow-in-the dark products is dibutyl phthalate. This substance has low toxicity and there has not been a report of an animal poisoned by its ingestion. If your dog has ingested dibutyl phthalate, you may see profuse drooling. Encourage him to drink a small amount of milk or eat a piece of bread. This will help dilute the taste of the dibutyl phthalate. Even rinsing the mouth out with water can help reduce the signs associated with glow jewelry exposure. Even after rinsing the mouth, you may want to bathe your pet to remove any dibutyl that may have leaked out of the tooth marks and onto the pet’s hair coat.
Grape and Raisins. Ingestion of grapes or raisins can be toxic to dogs. The amount of grapes or raisins ingested has been between a few grams to about 2 pounds, and dogs ingesting these large amounts have developed kidney failure. Any dog that ingests large amounts of grapes or raisins at one time should be treated aggressively, so contact your veterinarian immediately if ingestion has occurred. Eating a few here and there has not been proven to be toxic.
Herbal Medications. While most plants used have beneficial properties, it is important to remember that the strength of the plant’s active ingredients will vary with the variety of herb and the horticultural practices used to grow them. Herbs can be sprayed with pesticides, fungicides or fertilizers. They may have been fertilized with improperly prepared compost, which can harbor harmful bacteria. They may produce more than one active compound causing unwanted side effects, which may worsen some medical conditions. There are no standards for quality control in production and dosages. Onion, garlic, pennyroyal and ginseng are a few of the commonly used herbal preparations that can cause toxicities if used inappropriately. Many have vomiting and diarrhea as a side effect. Even if your pet is taking an herbal supplement without complication, make sure your veterinarian knows what you are giving. Some herbs interfere with other health concerns and other medications.
Ibuprofen. Ibuprofen is a popular and effective over-the-counter medication available to treat pain and inflammation in people. For dogs, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. The most common cause of ibuprofen toxicity is a well-meaning dog owner who tries to alleviate pain in his dog by administering a dose he thinks is adequate without knowing the toxic dose. The initial toxic effect is bleeding stomach ulcers. In addition to ulcers, increasing doses of ibuprofen eventually lead to kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal. Symptoms include poor appetite, vomiting, black tarry stools, vomiting blood, abdominal pain, weakness and lethargy.
Inhaled Toxins can be toxic to dogs.
Carbon Monoxide Poisoning is typically associated with confinement in a running vehicle but can also occur in a home with improper ventilation and faulty furnaces. If you suspect that your pet has been exposed to carbon monoxide, remove him from the scene and place him in an area with fresh air. Contact your veterinarian or local emergency facility for further instructions.
Smoke inhalation is another common inhaled toxin.
Iron. Iron is a chemical element that is important to red blood cell production in the body. It is found in a variety of supplements and vitamins. Iron toxicity typically occurs after accidental ingestion of the supplements or from overdoses of supplements. Iron comes in a variety of forms and the forms that may result in toxicity are: ferrous fumarate, ferrous sulfate, ferric phosphate, and ferrous carbonate. Toxic levels of iron cause damage to the stomach and intestinal lining as well as cause severe liver damage and heart damage. The first signs generally occur within six hours of eating a toxic amount. Even without treatment, your dog may appear to have improved after the initial gastrointestinal upset. Unfortunately, spontaneous recovery has not really occurred and about 24 hours later, diarrhea returns along with liver failure, shock and possible coma. Bleeding disorders can also occur. See your veterinarian immediately if you suspect iron toxicity.
Ivermectin. Ivermectin is an anti-parasite drug that causes neurologic damage to the parasite, resulting in paralysis and death. Ivermectin has been used to prevent parasite infections, such as heartworms or ear mites. Causes of ivermectin toxicity in dogs include administration of excessive doses and breed sensitivity to lower doses (which occurs in some breeds such as the collie or Australian shepherd). Toxicity can result in any number or combination of clinical signs including dilated pupils, depression, drooling, vomiting, tremors, disorientation, weakness, recumbency (inability to rise), blindness, unresponsiveness, slow heart rate, slow respiratory rate, coma or death.
Lead. Lead toxicity refers to poisoning due to ingestion or inhalation of products containing the element lead. Dogs may be exposed to lead from several different sources. Lead toxicity can cause anemia (low red blood cell count), gastrointestinal symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea) and nervous system problems (seizures). Lead crosses the placenta from pregnant mother to babies and is also excreted in her milk. Thus, the developing fetus and nursing young can be affected. See your veterinarian if you suspect lead exposure.