Dogs and cats are known for eating things when they are not supposed to. This is especially true of puppies and kittens. Typically cats will turn up their nose at chocolate, but most dogs find it irresistible. Also, dogs have an excellent sense of smell, making it fairly easy to find any secret hiding spots for the chocolate. This can be a dangerous combination when there is chocolate around the house.
Chocolate is made from seeds of the cacao tree and contains certain properties that are toxic to animals: caffeine and theobromine. If ingested, these can prompt multiple medical complications and may even prove fatal. Dogs and cats cannot metabolize these like people can, therefore it makes them more sensitive to these ingredients. Chocolates and candy bars are the most common ingested but other sources include flavored multi-vitamins, baked goods, liqueurs, or chocolate-covered espresso beans.Typically, the less sweet and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your pet. Baker’s chocolate, dark and semi-sweet chocolates, cocoa beans and cocoa powder cause the biggest problems. White chocolate has very little theobromine and does not normally cause poisoning.
If your pet eats a small amount of chocolate it may cause mild vomiting and diarrhea. Larger amounts can cause severe symptoms like agitation, increased and abnormal heart rhythms, and seizures. Due to the higher fat content in chocolate, some pets may develop pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) after ingesting it.
Signs to watch for:
- Increased heart rate
- Elevated blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Elevated body temperature
If you suspect that your dog or cat has eaten chocolate, or starts showing these signs, talk with your veterinarian immediately. With Valentine’s day right around the corner, make sure your sweet treats are kept out of paws reach. Also, watch out for candy wrappers which can be a choking hazard or possibly cause a bowel obstruction. Check out these other Valentines Day Tips.
When we see disasters strike other parts of the country, it’s hard not to think that we are fortunate or “got lucky” not being in the areas affected. As pet owners and animal lovers, we may even find ourselves thinking or saying “I could not imagine anything like that happening”. While the thought of being affected by a disaster is an uncomfortable topic, you can feel more at ease knowing that you and your animals are prepared for an emergency situation to happen. Because the next time, it may not be as fortunate.
Prepare & Plan For The Unexpected
Disasters do not happen every day, and thanks to a lot of technology we are starting to get better at predicting events and having more notice ahead of time. Wildfires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes can still happen with little to no warning. It is important to know in advance what can affect your area. Have plans made in advance especially if you need to evacuate or leave your area. Talk with your veterinarian ahead of time, locate kennels or local animal shelter for boarding, ask out of town friends and family for help. Contact the local animal control officer or emergency offices for specific information and advice for your area.
Make An Emergency Kit
Just like you have emergency supplies for yourself or your family, it is important to have all of your pet’s basics for survival located in one place. FEMA recommends putting together an emergency supply kit with the help of your veterinarian with the following items
- Food & Water Have at least 3 days’ supply in sealed containers
- Medications Keep an extra supply of your pet’s medications in a waterproof container. Make sure they are within the printed expiration date. Pay special attention to the storage requirements printed on the label, some medications can tolerate temperature excursions while others can be damaged
- First Aid Kit Put together items with your vet including bandaging, tape, scissors, alcohol, saline solution, gloves, flea and tick medication and antibiotic wound ointment or dressings.
- Important Documents Have vaccination and medical records, microchip and identification information, veterinary contact information, and a picture of you and your pet together in case you become separated
- Collar or Harness, ID and Rabies Tags, and Leash
- Travel Supplies Have a safe crate or carrier, spare harnesses or leashes, and sanitation supplies for taking care of your pet’s waste
- Familiar Items Have some favorite toys, treats, or bedding to reduce stress for your pet.
For more information and resources about emergency animal preparedness and supply kits, please visit the official FEMA Ready website.
Looking for first aid options? VetRxDirect offers a variety of products for dogs and cats.
Rodent Poisoning in Pets
Most everyone has dealt with a mouse or rat in their home throughout their life. Even those who haven’t encountered a rodent are likely to use a poison to prevent such animals from making a habitat out of their home. Rodent poison, called rodenticide, also has the power to kill our beloved pets: a well-versed knowledge of rodent poison safety can prevent our pets from becoming victims.
3 common ingredients of rodent poison:
- These ingredients block the body from using Vitamin K for blood clotting, eventually causing internal bleeding and death.
- Common ingredient names: warfarin, coumatetralyl, difenacoum, brodifacoum, flocoumafen, bromadiolone, diphacinone, chlorophacinone, and pindone.
- Available antidote(s): Vitamin K is administered to pets to counteract the effects of the rodent poison. VetRxDirect now carries a more convenient, chewable vitamin K.
- Metal Phosphides
- These ingredients react with the rodent’s stomach contents to form a toxic gas.
- Common ingredient names: aluminum phosphide calcium phosphide, magnesium phosphide, and zinc phosphide. No specific antidote is available but supportive care can be successful in early cases.
- Calciferol’s (Vitamin D)
- These ingredients are different forms of vitamin D and a toxic dose is eaten by the rodent to kill them.
- Common ingredient names: cholecalciferol and ergocalciferol.
- Available antidote(s): No specific antidote is available but supportive care can be successful in early cases.
Signs your pet may have ingested rodent poison:
The signs of rodent poisoning in pets varies by type of ingredient. The anticoagulant poisons are likely to cause bleeding. Signs specific to anticoagulant rat poison toxicity include excessive bleeding from cuts and scrapes, bleeding gums, difficulty breathing, bloody stools, bloody vomit, bloody urine, nose bleed, weakness, and bruises.
Signs specific to metal phosphide poisoning include rotten breath odors, depression, rapid breathing, blood in vomit, weakness, and seizures.
Signs specific to Vitamin D poisoning include depression, loss of appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, and unpleasant breath odor.
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Actions to take if your pet has ingested rodent poison or you suspect they have:
- IMMEDIATELY call your pet’s veterinarian. I emphasize immediately because starting treatment right away can save your pet’s life.
- Remove or enclose all rodent poison accessible to your pet. You now know they like the taste of it and it should be out of their reach.
- Consult a specialist in removing and preventing rodents from living inside your home.
How to prevent rodent poisoning in dogs:
- The easiest way to prevent poisoning your pet is to not use rodent poison in your home or surrounding area. However this may not be feasible for those living in highly populated rodent areas.
- Enclose the rodent poison in contraptions designed just for rodents that aren’t accessible to pets. These are simple devices that the rodent has to crawl into to eat the poison and can help prevent your pet from doing so.
- You can also try mouse/rat traps, but these are also not completely fool-proof to pets. One curious snout or paw can easily get snapped in a mouse trap.
- Know the ingredients in your poison(s) and the symptoms of poisoning in your pet. The symptoms may take a while to show but early detection is key for saving their life.
What questions do you have about rodent poisoning in pets? Have you ever experienced a pet ingesting rodent poison?