By Matthew Kearns, DVM
This year more than ever I consider my pet my best friend and most loyal companion. I love that social distancing is not necessary when we get together. Therefore, I always want to make sure everything we do is safe and there are some things to look out for in the fall. Here is a list of common hazards to avoid:
Acorns — Acorns swallowed whole can become intestinal obstructions in smaller dogs and cats. In addition, the meaty inner portion of the acorn contains a poisonous compound called gallotannins. Gallotannins are extremely irritating to the lining of the stomach and bowels. Small amounts cause mild vomiting and diarrhea but large amounts could lead to severe bloody vomiting, diarrhea, and shock secondary to dehydration and bleeding.
Rodenticides — In the fall the cooler temperatures force rodents inside and the use of rodenticides increases. If you are forced to use rodenticides make sure to put in places where no accidental exposure to your pets is possible.
Mushrooms — Certain types of mushrooms contain a toxic component called amanitin. Amanitin causes rapid hepatocellular necrosis, or liver cell death. A single mushroom can be potentially lethal depending on the size of your pet. There is no specific antidote so if you suspect your pet has ingested this get them to your veterinarian as soon as possible to make them vomit, as well as other decontamination procedures and care.
Old rotten and moldy food — If you do have people over for a get together make sure to clean up old food. Bacteria and mold that grow on food (and it doesn’t take long in the warm, moist weather we see in the summer) release certain toxins when ingested that can lead not only to vomiting and diarrhea but also potentially kidney, heart, and central nervous system damage. Also certain bones (especially hollow bones like chicken bones) can lead to either obstructions or perforations of the bowel.
Antifreeze Toxicity — More and more companies are using propylene glycol (which is harmless to pets), however many still use ethylene glycol. Even small amounts of ethylene glycol can cause permanent, even fatal kidney damage. Consider switching to propylene glycol-based antifreeze if you haven’t already.
Halloween Candy — everyone knows that chocolate is toxic to pets but other problems include wrappings that can lead to an intestinal obstruction or choking hazard. Some sugar free candies also contain xylitol which is toxic to dogs. Make sure all Halloween candy is in a safe place out of reach of pets.
I hope these tips help to keep this fall safe for you and your pet.
Dr. Kearns practices veterinary medicine from his Port Jefferson office and is pictured with his son Matthew and his dog Jasmine. Have a question for the vet? Email it to [email protected] and see his answer in an upcoming column.