Because this is the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week, petMD.com, a leading online resource on pet health, is warning dog moms that their purses may contain items known to be toxic to pets. For this reason, it is very important to hang your handbag well out of your dog’s reach.
Here are the top five items in your purse that could poison your pooch, according to petMD.com.
1. Sugarless gum and mints
Most of these products contain xylitol, a chemical sweetener that can make dogs very sick. Around your house, xylitol can often be found in toothpaste, mouthwash and flavored multivitamins.
“When ingested, even small amounts of xylitol can result in a life-threatening and rapid drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia), and if large amounts are ingested, dogs can suffer from severe acute hepatic necrosis (i.e., liver failure),” writes petMD.com. “Signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, collapse, tremors and seizures.”
2. Ibuprofen and other medications
Pill bottles can be irresistible to dogs: They rattle like a toy and are all too easy to chew through.
“Common drugs ingested by pets include non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs like Advil, Aleve and Motrin), acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol) and antidepressants (e.g., Effexor, Cymbalta and Prozac),” notes petMD.com.
“All of these can cause serious harm to dogs and cats when ingested. NSAIDs cause stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure, especially in cats. A single Tylenol tablet (containing acetaminophen) can be fatal to a cat, and a larger ingestion can lead to severe liver failure in dogs and dry eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca). Antidepressants can cause neurological problems like sedation, incoordination, agitation, tremors and seizures.”
3. Asthma inhalers
While an inhaler can help save a human’s life, if a dog chews through it, it can result in acute poisoning. “Asthma inhalers often contain concentrated doses of beta-agonist drugs (e.g., albuterol), and each inhaler often contains 200 doses in one vial,” writes petMD.com. “When dogs chew into them, they are exposed to massive amounts of the drugs all at once. This can lead to severe poisoning, resulting in life-threatening heart arrhythmias, agitation, vomiting, collapse and death.”
“Not only are these bad for you, but they are equally bad for your pets! As few as three cigarettes can be fatal to a small dog, depending on the ‘strength’ or ‘lightness’ of the cigarettes,” warns petMD.com.
The toxic ingredient is nicotine, which can also be found in chewing tobacco and stop-smoking gum like Nicorette. PetMD.com writes, “Nicotine poisoning causes clinical signs rapidly – in as short as 15 minutes – and can be fatal if not treated. Signs of elevated heart and respiratory rates, neurological overstimulation, uncontrolled urination/defecation, tremors, seizures, paralysis and death can be seen with accidental ingestion.”
5. Hand sanitizer
Many of these sanitizers are made up of nearly 100-percent alcohol (ethanol). “When a dog chews and ingests a small bottle of hand sanitizer, it can have the same effect as a shot of hard liquor,” writes petMD.com. “Signs of alcohol poisoning include a severe drop in blood sugar (hypoglycemia in dogs), lack of coordination, a drop in body temperature, neurological depression, coma and death.”
If your dog ingests any of these items, call the Pet Poison Helpline immediately at 855-213-6680.
PHOTO: Ray Devlin