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Vet Tech Rounds: Autumn Hazards

Vet Talks 4 min read
Vet Tech Rounds: Autumn Hazards

The summer sun is setting, and the cooler fall weather is on its way. Fall brings along some unique dangers for our pets. Unfortunately, in my time in veterinary clinics, I have seen many pets present with acute toxicity caused by a number of substances. If you suspect your pet may have eaten something and you are not sure whether it is toxic, call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately. Be sure to gather as much information as possible, such as ingredients of the products or photos of the plant in question.

Rodenticides – “Rat Poison”

mushroom toxicity

As the weather cools, rodents start looking for warm places to nest. Unfortunately, this is often in homes and the solution for some is to lay out toxic Rodenticides, or “rat poison”. This substance is obviously not something our pets should be ingesting, but it is made to be intriguing to rodents, which also means it can be intriguing to our pets as well. Many of these products work by stopping the clotting process in the blood. This leads to internal bleeding and eventually death. Pets who hunt can also be susceptible to this poisoning if they ingest rodents who have to succumb to the toxin.

If you know your pet has gotten into any rodenticides, it is extremely important that they be immediately rushed to the vet. If it has been less than an hour or so, the veterinarian will be able to induce vomiting to remove any undigested material from your pet’s stomach. This is usually followed by oral doses of activated charcoal to help absorb any toxins in the intestinal tract. Your pet will require close monitoring and blood samples will be taken to check for adequate blood clotting time.

mushroom toxicity

If your pet ingests rodenticide without your knowledge, the first signs you may notice are petechiae. Petechiae are small red spots on the skin and mucous membranes. These spots indicate the beginning of an inability of the blood to clot. If you notice these spots anywhere on your pet, see your vet immediately. It is possible for pets in advanced stages of rodenticide toxicity to make a full recovery with prompt and adequate treatment. Treatment involves supplementing vitamin K, which plays an important role in blood clotting.


mushroom toxicity

The onset of cool and moist weather makes it the prime time for mushrooms to grow.

The onset of cool, moist weather makes it the prime time for mushrooms to grow. Mushrooms can grow almost anywhere, you may even see them on lawns in the fall. There is a very large variety of mushrooms, and obviously, some are not toxic. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the toxic varieties from the safe varieties. If you witness your dog eating any mushroom and you aren’t sure the type, head to your vet immediately so that they can induce vomiting.

Toxic effects from mushrooms range from mild gastrointestinal effects to more severe neurological symptoms. Other possible toxic effects include hepatotoxicity (toxicity of the liver).

The earliest symptoms of mushroom toxicity include extreme lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and collapse. If you notice any of these symptoms and you think your pet may have had access to mushrooms, have your pet seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Anti-Freeze – Ethylene glycol

antifreeze toxicity

As winter approaches, many of us are topping up the fluids in our vehicles. Ethylene glycol or “anti-freeze” can be extremely toxic to pets. Unfortunately, it is also quite sweet, which is often the reason pets are inclined to ingest it. Luckily many companies now add a bittering agent to try to avoid consumption, however, not all pets are bothered by this. Ethylene glycol can cause rapid acute kidney failure when ingested. When ingested, initial signs of toxicity may include disorientation and extreme lethargy. It may have similar effects to alcohol intoxication. The chemical then causes a sudden production of calcium oxalate crystals to form in the kidneys which rapidly and severely affects kidney function. After ingestion, 100% of kidney function may be lost in about 72 hours. At this point, urine will no longer be produced. Unfortunately, once kidney function is lost it cannot be regained, so complete loss of all kidney function is fatal.

Even a few small licks of antifreeze can be fatal to a cat or small dog, so if you suspect your pet may have ingested even a very small amount of anti-freeze, it is very important to see a veterinarian immediately.

Despite our best efforts, accidents can happen. If your pet happens to ingest a toxin, use Milk Thistle along with veterinary recommended treatment to help support the liver in processing the toxins and flushing them out of the system. NHV BK Detox can also help your pet’s body to fight and flush the toxins from its system. If your pet has experienced any lasting effects from past toxicity, contact our Pet Experts to find out which supplements can help.

Johanna RVT

Johanna RVT

Johanna is NHV’s in house Registered Veterinary Technician. Technicians are the veterinary equivalent of a human nurse. Johanna has over 10 years of experience in different types of veterinary clinics and hospitals. She has seen and assisted in the treatment of a variety of medical conditions and injuries. She will share her experiences in her monthly blog series “Vet Tech Rounds” to help our extended NHV family learn about common preventable medical cases and other interesting stories of vet clinic life.

Published: September 21, 2018

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