Knowing some of the basics and having a first aid kit on hand may save your pets life.
To make up a first aid kit for your pet is quite easy.
Get a water proof bag large enough to hold the following supplies:
- Sterile wound dressing,
- gauze bandage,
- medical tape,
- thermometer andlubricant such as KY Jelly,
- small syringe or eye dropper,
- chlorhexidine disinfectant in a small bottle (with instructions on how to dilute it for use),
- plastic non latex gloves,
- ophthalmic saline solution,
- antiseptic wound ointment, and
- a small bottle or bag containing a few washing soda crystals.
Additionally have a ruler or other rigid material for a splint and a blanket large enough to cover your pet and a soft nylon rope to fashion a muzzle in an emergency.
Optional Extras include tick remover, and instant cold pack.
Once you have gathered you supplies place them in your waterproof bag and add a card with your vets and the Animal Emergency Centres number on it.
Your first aid kit is now ready
Your pet has just ingested something toxic. What do you do?
First, take a deep breath. Stay calm, the more composed you are, the sooner you can seek the correct medical attention.
Then, take the following steps:
- Check to make sure your pet is breathing normally and acting fine otherwise and remove your pet from the area.
- Make sure no other pets or children are exposed to the area, and safely remove any poisonous material.
- Collect a sample of the material, along with the packaging, or container. The information on the pack can be vital in the treatment of your pet.
- Don’t give your dog any milk, food, salt, oil, or any other home remedies. This can lead to complications.
- Never induce vomiting without talking to your vet—you may cause further problems by doing so.
- Get help. Program your vet’s phone number into your phone, as well as the Animal Emergency Hospital number.
Remember your pet’s prognosis is always better when treatment is sought immediately, so don’t wait to see if symptoms develop before seeking help by calling your vet or us on 02) 6288 4944. There is only a small opportunity to remove the poison from your pet before it is absorbed so don’t delay.
Prevent Pet Poisoning in your home
Prevention is better than cure, and by taking a few simple precautions you can prevent your pet from getting poisoned.
In the Living Room
- Make sure any pot plants or cut flowers are not poisonous. Take especial care with bouquets of flowers as they often contain Lilies, which are highly poisonous to cats. • Avoid the use of aerosols and heavily fragranced products around caged birds.
- Make sure any home fragrance products such as pot-pourri, plug in diffusers and oil burners are well out of reach of pets.
- Make sure ashtrays, cigarettes and nicotine replacement products are kept out of reach of pets.
In the Kitchen
- Make sure foods poisonous to pets are kept out of reach these include sugar free gum, grapes, chocolate, onions and many more. For a more complete list check out our top ten kitchen toxins. Also avoid leaving fatty foods out as these can cause pancreatitis if eaten.
- Avoid access to garbage bins and compost heaps as these can contain many toxins such as coffee grounds, spoilt food and cooked bones, which can cause serious problems for pets.
- Make sure alcohol is also kept out of reach.
In the Bathroom
- Keep all medications vitamins and supplements locked up in secure cupboards—don’t leave them on bench tops or plastic containers, which are easily chewed through.
- Never use any human medications on your pets without first checking with your vet that it is safe to do so. Many common medications such as Paracetamol are toxic to pets.
- Store your pets medication separately from your own, it has been known for humans to accidentally take pet medications and visa versa. Always check the label to make sure your are using the correct dose and medication before giving it.
- Keep pets away from cleaning products. When cleaning any room with detergents and disinfectants make sure to shut your pet out of the room until the product has dried. Cats are often attracted to bleach and other cleaners and can suffer serious problems after licking at cleaning products.
- Keep your toilet lid closed, it is not uncommon for a dog or cat to drink from the toilet bowl given half a chance and this can lead to nasty consequences especially if you use automatic toilet bowl treatments.
In the Laundry/Garage
- Keep pest poisons out of reach of pets. Check all products to see if they are toxic to your pet and know what to do if any product is ingested. Where possible choose products that are not toxic to your pet Do not use insecticides without knowing the toxic effects of the product. Read the label carefully and make sure your pet is locked away when using sprays etc. Never use dog products on cats or visa versa without check with your vet first.
- Keep batteries out of reach, if chewed or swallowed these can cause serious harm and dogs seem to like chewing them.
- Keep glues out of reach—dogs love to chew on the bottles and these can cause serious damage by poisoning or causing blockages in the gut.
- Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) products are extremely toxic. Choose propylene glycol products as they are safer. If you spill any antifreeze on a driveway, clean it up immediately or dilute it with several litres of water.
- Keep all automotive products—like windshield cleaner fluid, engine oil—away from pets, and immediately clean up any spills.
- Dogs like to eat some fertilizers such as blood and bone and Dynamic Lifter. These can cause serious problems if ingested in reasonable quantities, so keep bags tightly sealed and use products according to label instructions.
- Grub or snail killers—use safer alternatives such as Multigard as most snail killers are extremely toxic to pets. Avoid them if possible.
- Insecticides used outside the house may contain organophosphates or carbamates and these can be very dangerous if ingested in larger concentrations.
- Keep pets off lawns until herbicides are dry. Once absorbed by the plant leaf products such as round up are no longer toxic to your pet.
In the Garden
- Make sure that plants in the area your pet has access to are not poisonous. Check out our top 11 toxic plants to help you with this or go online at www.petpoisonhelpline.com
- If placing pest poisons in the garden pest traps to place the poison inside as this avoids transference of poison by the pest to areas your pet can access.
- Make sure to remove ay mushrooms that sprout up as these can be highly toxic.
Source: Pet Poison Helpline, petpoisonhelpline.com
Top 10 Toxins in the Kitchen
||Chocolate:Contains Theobromine which has gastrointestinal and cardiovascular effects. The darker the chocolate, the more cocoa and the higher the theobromine content. As little as 5-10g of chocolate per kilogram of body weight of dark chocolate can have toxic effects on dogs. Cocoa powder is even more toxic. Another toxin in chocolate is caffeine, which acts as a stimulant to the heart and nervous system. White chocolate does not contain theobromine and milk chocolate has lower levels of theobromine so is less toxic then dark chocolate.
||Grapes, Raisins and Currants: The toxin is not known but ingestion of 19g/kg body weight of grapes and 3g/kg of raisins can lead to vomiting and diarrhoea within a few hours of ingestion. This progresses to loss of appetite, increased thirst and abdominal pain. Kidney failure can develop within 48 hours.
||Xylitol: Is used as a sweetening agent in sugar free gum and sweets. Ingestion of as little as 0.1g/kg can cause rapid life threatening drops in blood sugar. Larger amounts are toxic to the liver leading to liver failure. Symptoms include weakness, lethargy, collapse, vomiting, tremors, seizures, jaundice, black-tarry stools, coma and death.
||Alcohol: Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Central nervous system depression is very marked resulting in drowsiness, weakness and in-coordination and can lead to seizures and respiratory failure.
||Onions and Garlic: contain organosulfoxides which can lead to damage to the Red Blood Cells. This causes the cells to break up leading to anaemia. Cats are more sensitive to these toxins then dogs. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy, rapid heart rate, pale gums and yellowing of the skin (jaundice).
||Compost: Often contains fungal toxins which can be toxic. Signs include agitation, elevated temperature, panting, drooling, vomiting and may progress to in-coordination, tremors and seizures. Symptoms can develop within 30 minutes of ingestion and even small amounts can be toxic.
||Unbaked Bread Dough: When ingested can expand in the stomach leading to bloat, carbon dioxide can also be released causing further bloating and fermentation can lead to release of alcohol leading to further toxicity.
||Macadamia Nuts: Can be toxic to dogs. Symptoms include vomiting, in-coordination, weakness, fever, muscle tremors and depression. Macadamia nuts are only toxic to dogs. Poisoning is non fatal but requires supportive care to avoid complications.
||Household Cleaners: Similar to humans caustic cleaners can cause serious damage to the gastrointestinal tract as well as irritating the respiratory tract. Strangely it is often cats that suffer as they are attracted by bleach and will often lick the cleaners remaining after cleaning is completed causing ulceration of the tongue and mouth and excessive salivation.
||Human Medications: Many of these are highly toxic to both cats and dogs. Topping the list are common household medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs), which include common names such as ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen) and naproxen (eg Naprogesic). These can cause severe gastrointestinal ulcers and kidney failure. Another pain medications, acetaminophen (e.g. Panadol) is very popular. This drug is especially toxic to cats. One regular strength tablet of acetaminophen may cause damage to a cat’s red blood cells, limiting their ability to carry oxygen. In dogs, acetaminophen leads to liver failure and, in large doses, red blood cell damage. Another class of drugs that is toxic to pets is Antidepressants such as Fluoxetine (eg Prozac or Anafrinil). While these antidepressant drugs are occasionally used in pets, overdoses can lead to serious neurological problems such as sedation, in-coordination, tremors and seizures. Some antidepressants also have a stimulant effect leading to a dangerously elevated heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature. Medications used to treat Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (eg Ritalin) contain potent stimulants such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even minimal ingestion of these medications by pets can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems. Beta-blockers (eg Propranolol) are used to treat high blood pressure and small ingestion of these drugs may cause serious poisoning in pets. Overdoses can cause life-threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate. This is by no means a complete list, with many other medications harmful to pets.
If your pet ingests any of the above or any other medications or chemicals in your home please contact Weston Creek Veterinary Hospital immediately to get advice on your best course of action.
Top 11 Toxic Plants
While there are a vast number of species of plants and flowers, only a few of these plants are poisonous to your pet. Make sure you check which plants are most deadly and remove them from your backyard or home to avoid your dog or cat from getting into these toxic plants!
||Autumn Crocus (Colchicum Autumnale: Liliaceae Family): This plant contains Colchicine, which is highly toxic causing severe vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract, liver and renal damage, and respiratory problems. Signs may occur immediately but can be delayed for days. The more common crocus plants are those that flower in spring and are part of the Iridaceae family and cause general vomiting and diarrhoea but are not highly toxic. If you suspect your dog or cat has ingested this plant contact the veterinary clinic immediately.
||Azalea: These are in the same family as rhododendrons. Azaleas can cause serious problems for pets. Eating even a few leaves can result in vomiting, diarrhoea and excessive drooling. Prompt veterinary attention is needed or your pet could fall into a coma and possibly die.
||Cyclamen: Family Primulaceae. It is the roots (or tuber) of this seasonal flowering plant that are especially toxic to pets. If ingested, cyclamen can cause severe vomiting and even death. They are common plants available for use as indoor plants in the winter months.
||Kalanchoe: Part of the Crassulaceae family. This popular flowering succulent plant contains cardiac glycosides which can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and heart rhythm disturbances if ingested by pets. It is frost tender so in Canberra is likely to be an indoor or greenhouse plant.
||Lilies: Not all Lilies are toxic. Peace, Peruvian, and Calla lilies contain oxalate crystals that can cause minor signs, such as irritation to the mouth, tongue, pharynx, and oesophagus – this results in drooling.
The more dangerous, potentially fatal lilies are true lilies, and these include Tiger, Day, Asiatic, Easter and Japanese Show lilies – all of which are highly toxic to cats! Even small ingestions can result in severe kidney failure. If your cat is seen eating or chewing on any part of a lily, take your cat (and the plant) to the veterinary hospital immediately for medical care. The sooner you bring in your cat, the better the chance to treat the poisoning. Decontamination (like inducing vomiting and giving binders like activated charcoal) is imperative in the early toxic stage, while aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, kidney function monitoring tests, and supportive care can improve the prognosis.
||Oleander: It is a very popular outdoor shrub, with evergreen leaves and delicate flowers. However, the branches, leaves and flowers contain cardiac glycosides and these are extremely toxic if ingested. Ingestion of the plant can cause severe vomiting, slowing of the heart rate and potentially even cause death.
||Dieffenbachia: Popular indoor plants in many homes and offices, dieffenbachia can cause intense oral irritation, drooling, nausea, vomiting and difficulty swallowing if ingested.
||Daffodils: These flowers contain lycorine, an alkaloid with strong emetic properties (substance that triggers vomiting). Ingestion of the bulb, plant or flower can cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and even possible irregular heart rate or respiratory depression. Crystals are found in the outer layer of the bulbs, similar to hyacinths, which cause severe tissue irritation and secondary drooling. Daffodil ingestions can also result in more severe symptoms so if you see your pet chewing at a daffodil plant or bulb or symptoms are seen, we recommend you seek veterinary care for treatment.
||Lily of the Valley:The Convallaria majalis plant contains cardiac glycosides which will cause symptoms similar to digitalis (foxglove) ingestion. These symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, a slowing of the heart rate, severe heart rhythm disturbances, and possibly seizures. Pets with any known exposure to this plant should be examined and evaluated by your veterinarian and treated if needed.
||Sago Palm: In the Cycad family, this very popular household and outdoor plant (in warmer climates) can be very harmful to pets. If ingested, the leaves and seeds can cause vomiting, bloody stools, damage to the stomach lining, severe liver failure and, in some cases, death.
||Tulips and Hyacinths: Tulips contain allergenic lactones while hyacinths contain similar alkaloids. The toxic principle of these plants is very concentrated in the bulbs (versus the leaf or flower), so make sure your dog isn’t digging up the bulbs in the garden. When the plant parts or bulbs are chewed or ingested, it can result in tissue irritation to the mouth and oesophagus. Typical signs include profuse drooling, vomiting, or even diarrhoea, depending on the amount ingested. There’s no specific antidote, but with supportive care from the veterinarian (including rinsing the mouth, anti-vomiting medication, and possibly intravenous fluids), animals do quite well. With large ingestions of the bulb, more severe symptoms such as an increase in heart rate and changes in respiration can be seen.
This is only a partial list of poisonous plants. For a more complete list of plants poisonous to cats and dogs, visit www.petpoisonhelpline.com.
If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these plants or any other questionable substance, call Weston Creek Veterinary Hospital for assistance. Accurate and timely identification of the ingested material is very important. Having the container, package, or label will save valuable time and may save your pets life.
It is important to understand when you might need to provide first aid for the pets in our family and how.
1) Recognising emergency warning signs: If you pet shows any of the following signs, seek immediate veterinary advice. This list is however not all inclusive, any major changes to your pets behaviour warrant veterinary attention.
- Abnormal heart rate
- Coughing, especially if persistent and severe
- Difficulty breathing. Is your pet moving his abdomen to breath?
- Dilated pupils
- Lethargy or weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Pale gums
- Restlessness and panting
- Unproductive retching
2) Stop, Assess, Act. In case of an emergency remain calm, assess your pet methodically and communicate clearly with your veterinarian.
- Safety first. Make sure it is safe for you to go to your pet and take precautions against being bitten or scratched as panicked pets often lash out in fear.
- Check the ABCDs: Airway, Breathing, Circulation, Disability. Make sure your pets airway is clear, check for breathing and a heartbeat and then assess the degree of injury.
- Administer first aid. Stop or control any bleeding, flush burns, immobilise broken limbs, etc
- Call your vet and get to the hospital as fast as you safely can. Make sure to let your vet know what has happened clearly so they can prepare for your arrival.
3) The Vitals: Baseline Health Stats. You must first know what is normal in order to be able to determine if anything is abnormal.
- Heart Rate: Small to Medium dogs 70-140 beats per minute
Large Dogs: 50-120 beats per minute
Cats: 140-200 beats per minute
- Respiratory Rate: 15-30 breaths per minute for dogs and cats.
Finding a pets pulse
Finding a pets heart beat
Here is some information to help you keep your pets safe at home:
Poisons and Toxins
If you are worried about your pet’s health or would like to further discuss how you can manage first aid for your pets in your home call us now and you can talk to one of our trained staff at reception or make an appointment to see one of our veterinarians.