Top 10 Pet Poisons of 2008
This past year, more than 140,000
cases of pets exposed to toxic household substances were reported to the ASPCA
Animal Poison Control Center, proving that many everyday items in our homes can
harm pets. Find out what these pet-unfriendly substances are—and avoid an
accident in 2009.
CA, CO, IL, IN, MO, NJ, NY, VT & WA Residents - ANIMAL CRUELTY Law Pocket Cards AVAILABLE
Animal advocates from California, Illinois, New Jersey & New York - You
can help take a bite out of animal abuse simply by knowing your state's animal
cruelty laws. Now this information can always be at your fingertips, with
the ASPCA's 2004 animal cruelty law
pocket cards. Excellent resources for
local law enforcement, animal control officials and concerned citizens, the
tri-fold cards list each state's cruelty laws and penalties, and are available
in quantities of 50 and 100. For complete ordering information, visit
with XYLITOL can be
TOXIC TO DOGS
Sugar-free candy & gum
may be sweet enough for you, ASPCA News Alert readers, but they can possibly be
toxic to your animal companions. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control
Center (APCC), xylitol
a sweetener found in certain sugar-free chewing gum, candies and other
products--can potentially cause serious, even life-threatening problems for pets.
Based on data collected from the 40-plus related cases the center has managed,
canines who have ingested significant amounts of gum or candy solely or largely
containing xylitol may develop a sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in
depression, loss of coordination & seizures. "These signs can develop quite
rapidly, at times less than 30 minutes after ingestion," says Dr. Eric
Dunayer, consulting veterinarian for the APCC. "Therefore, it is important that
pet owners seek veterinary treatment immediately."
DOCUMENTARY NOW AVAILABLE ON DVD & VHS
Each year, almost five million dogs end up in animal shelters--but not every dog
is safe to place with a family. What if a canine shows aggression, or is a known
biter? For two years, HBO filmmaker Cynthia Wade was given unprecedented access
to Rondout Valley Kennels and its controversial owner, dog trainer and author
Sue Sternberg, resulting in the award-winning documentary
And now, due to popular demand, the work has been made available on VHS and DVD.
To order a copy, or to find out more about the film, please visit
Shelter Dogs online.
CAMPAIGN Launched to bring DOGS OUT OF THE COLD
You probably consider your pampered
pooch to be a big part of the family. But not all dogs are so lucky. To help
raise awareness of the many canines who spend their lives chained or penned
outside, Tammy Grimes, founder of Dogs Deserve Better, is leading a campaign to
bring the family dog back into the home. "Dogs Deserve Better stresses the point
that dogs are pack animals," explains the ASPCA's Jacque Schultz, CPDT, National
Shelter Outreach/Companion Animal Programs Advisor, "and as such will watch over
the family better when treated to a more comfortable, companionable life."
For more information about the campaign and how you can help, please visit
Dogs Deserve Better online.
THREE NEW WAYS TO FIGHT PET OVERPOPULATION IN GEORGIA
Georgia animal activists, did you know
that your home state now has a special fund to help pay for low-cost spaying and
If your pet is not spayed or neutered--or if
you work with a rescue group that routinely has animals altered--contact your
veterinarian to participate in the program. If your veterinarian isn't aware
of the fund, he or she can call the Georgia Department of Agriculture at (800)
282-5852 for more information.
Get a dog and cat license plate for your
vehicle! Plates are available for $25 at county tag offices statewide.
All donations are tax-deductible, and if you
are honoring someone with your donation, a card will be sent to the honoree.
Contributions can be sent to Dog and Cat Sterilization Fund, PO Box 347043,
Atlanta, GA 30334-7043.
IRAQI VETS Receive
As part of its mercy mission to help
the animals of war-torn Iraq, the UK-based World Society for the Protection
of Animals (WSPA) delivered emergency medical supplies to
veterinarians in and around the towns of Al Kut and Al Amarah.
The doctors, whose facilities were looted, were
extremely pleased to see the WSPA team; as one local veterinarian told
them, "The supplies will help save the lives of many animals. We have nothing
WSPA also planned to deliver a major
shipment of veterinary supplies to Baghdad. For more information,
and to find out how you can support these efforts, please visit
CURIOUS — A Special Operations
soldier greets two dogs near the town of An Najaf, Iraq,
Special Operations teams work closely
with regular Army units in the press toward Baghdad in support of Operation
Iraqi Freedom. U.S.
Army photo by Staff Sgt. Kyle Davis
WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU SAW AN
ANIMAL BEING ABUSED?
To help citizens recognize and report acts of violence and neglect
towards animals, the ASPCA is stepping up educational efforts. Thanks to the national exposure
that the Humane Law Enforcement department receives on the weekly reality series
Precinct," millions of Americans are becoming increasingly aware of what
constitutes animal cruelty. "What people also need to learn from the show is
that animal cruelty is a national problem," says ASPCA Special Investigator
Annemarie Lucas. "Violence towards animals crosses all racial and socioeconomic
lines and reaches from coast to coast."
No matter where you live, you can join in, in this fight. Consider the following
tips to make life more humane for the animals in your community:
If you witness or
hear about animal cruelty taking place--examples include stories of neighborhood
children torturing cats, blood sports such as cock fighting & dog fighting, &
companion animals being denied food, water, shelter & veterinary care--report it
to your local humane organization or call your local police. Visit this website
to find a Humane Law Enforcement Agency near you.
Interested in taking
a more active part in passing humane laws? Check out the ASPCA Advocacy Center,
where you can send personal letters to your state and federal officials, urging
them to support animal-friendly legislation.
Teach your children
well--by making sure that schools in your town include humane education as part
of the curriculum. Contact email@example.com or visit ASPCA Humane Education
online for classroom resources.
professionals, help promote Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month and check out
downloadable materials at ASPCA.org.
PLANNING TO FERTILIZE YOUR LAWN? ...Read This First
thinking of using cocoa bean mulch to fertilize your lawn, please think twice.
Made from spent cocoa beans used in the production of chocolate, cocoa bean
mulch may deter slugs and snails, but it also attracts companion canines, who
can be poisoned by eating it.
Cocoa beans contain caffeine and theobromine, both
chemicals that are toxic to dogs. Depending on the amount ingested, symptoms
range from vomiting and diarrhea (that's if about two ounces were eaten by a
50-pound dog) to tremors, seizures and death, if a canine of the same size were
to eat nine ounces of cocoa mulch.
If you suspect that your dog has eaten this
organic fertilizer, immediately contact your veterinarian or call (888) 426 4435 for 24-hour emergency assistance.
See articles on this information at
the Cocoa Bean Fertilizer Warning
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR MILITARY
As the country sees many of its Military Families abroad, the ASPCA,
along with the Humane Society of the United States and the National Animal
Control Association, urge military personnel to work to keep pets in the
family and avoid placing them in already overcrowded shelters. If you know
of someone who may be deployed, please direct them these links
Patriotic Pets /
HSUS Tips /
Animal Sheltering /
Military Pet Foster Project /
PAW Partnership for Animal Welfare /
DOUGH a NO-NO for DOGS and CATS
Jill A. Richardson, DVM, of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC),
when bread dough is ingested, an animal's body heat causes the dough to rise in
the stomach. As alcohol is produced during the rising process, the dough
expands. Pets who've eaten bread dough may experience abdominal pain, bloat,
vomiting, disorientation and depression.
"We once had a case in which a Labrador retriever ate several rolls that the
owner had placed on the oven to rise," Richardson recalls. "The owner didn't
think much of this, and was just upset that the dog ate part of the holiday
feast. But a few hours later, the owner noticed that the dog looked very
lethargic. He was resistant to move, uncoordinated and was retching."
As the dog's symptoms worsened, his owner brought him to an emergency clinic,
which contacted the APCC. Unfortunately, the dog's stomach was so severely
distended by this time that the only option was to surgically remove the dough;
he was also treated for alcohol toxicosis, caused by the fermentation of the
dough. The canine was kept at the clinic for the weekend and fortunately
recovered. See Poisonous to Pets
/ FELINE HEALTH ALERT: HOLD the ONIONS, Please
Raw, dehydrated, cooked, or powdered--onions in any form can be
dangerous to your dog or cat, say veterinarians at the ASPCA Animal Poison
Control Center (APCC). Should your pet partake of a toxic dose, thiosulphate
in the onions can cause hemolytic anemia, in which the red blood cells
are spliced and unable to supply enough oxygen. The minimum toxic dose will
vary, depending on the animal's size and sensitivity and the amount and type of
onion ingested, but initial signs of poisoning include vomiting, nausea and
diarrhea, progressing to lethargy, weakness and difficulty breathing. Says
the APCC's Dr. Jill A. Richardson, "Often the pet owner realizes there is a
problem when the damaged red blood cells are eliminated in the pet's urine,
which becomes a bright red color."
Poisoning can occur with repeated ingestion of small amounts of onion or
with a single ingestion, as was the case with two collie mixes from
Philadelphia. The dogs ate some fried onions out of the trash can on a Friday.
"By Sunday, the dogs' urine was red--from the free hemoglobin released from
ruptured red blood cells," reports Richardson. "At that time the owner brought
them into an emergency clinic, thinking the dogs had urinary tract infections."
Upon examination and discussion, exposure to onions was confirmed. The
clinic's veterinary staff contacted the APCC for treatment solutions. Says
Richardson, "Our recommendations included administering fluids to protect the
kidneys, a blood transfusion and aggressive nursing care." The dogs responded
and were released later in the week.
Some concerned companion animal caretakers wanted to know more, so we checked
in with APCC's Dr. Jill A. Richardson for the answers to their queries:
Q: "Can animals have onion powder as a flavoring in
their food?" asks one reader.
A: "Onion powder should NOT be added to your pet's
food," responds Dr. Richardson. "And in fact, there was a published report of
onion poisoning in cats who were repeatedly fed baby food that contained small
amounts of onion powder."
Q: "I read your article about onions, and began to
wonder about mushrooms," writes Allison Brownlow, ASPCA News Alert reader and
mom to two West Highland white terriers. "Not the poisonous ones we are aware
of, but the garden-variety kind found popping up on our lawns."
A: Should your pet partake of fungi from your backyard,
cautions Dr. Richardson, "ALWAYS assume that any ingested mushroom is highly
toxic until that mushroom is identified by a mycologist. Toxic and nontoxic
mushrooms can grow in the same area."
What should you do if you think your animal companion has accidentally eaten
onions? Contact your veterinarian or the APCC's animal emergency hotline at
(888) 4-ANI-HELP for decontamination help. For more information on poison
Birds, Tool Craftsmen (Craftswomen) EXPERT Problem SOLVERS
Studies have proven crows to be talented toolmakers and
problem solvers. In what University of Colorado scientist Marc Bekoff calls
"perhaps one of the most significant studies in animal thinking,"
researchers at Oxford University presented a New Caledonian crow named Betty
with a straight wire and a bucket of food dropped out of reach down a pipe. By
using her beak to create a hook in the wire, Betty was able to retrieve the
food. No, she'd never seen the wire before, or watched other birds using
it--challenging the theory that humans are the only species to make tools out of
objects without prior experience.
And Betty earns extra credit in our book, surmounting the odds when Abel, a
dominant older crow, made her job even more difficult. In a pre-trial
experiment, Betty and Abel were given a hooked wire and a straight one. Abel
stole the hooked wire Betty had chosen, leaving her with the straight wire.
Undaunted, she wedged the tip of the wire in a crack and bent it with her beak
to make a hook. Abel was then ousted from the experiment, as dominant males tend
to steal food from subordinates rather than fashion tools of their own. Should
Betty decide to rest on her well-deserved laurels, guess
he'll just have to eat crow.
PRODUCTS ON YOUR CAT
READ THE LABEL FIRST!
also see 'any flea control'
Attention, cat caretakers! If you are using flea-control products on your pet,
the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) urges you to always follow the
instructions on the label--and never use any product that is formulated "for
There are more than 18 brands of flea-control products for canines that
contain permethrin--just a few drops of which can be lethal to felines.
Signs of toxicity, which can develop anywhere from a few hours to two days after
application, include tremors and seizures. Most cats will recover with prompt,
aggressive treatment, but prevention is the best medicine. Simply use
species-appropriate products, follow the instructions on the label, and don't
hesitate to consult your veterinarian if you are unsure of the proper use of any
If you suspect that your cat has been exposed to permethrin, call your
veterinarian or the APCC's emergency hotline-- 1 888 4 ANI -HELP
--for round-the-clock telephone assistance. For more information on what's toxic
and what's not--and what you can do to prevent your pet from being poisoned--visit
'any flea control' below
see our Poisonous to Pets
PILOT TAKES FLIGHT & FIGHTS for RETIRED GREYHOUNDS
Pilot and greyhound rescuer Maggie McCurry embarked on an 8,000-mile
series of flights transporting retired racing dogs to adoption groups all over
the country. The Great Greyhound Goodwill Air Tour, sponsored in part by the ASPCA, PetsMart Charities, The Ark Trust and the National Greyhound Adoption
Program, took McCurry to 25 cities in 18 states. "Many cities with
racetracks cannot place all their retired greyhounds locally and rely on groups
in outlying areas to locate families who will adopt them," says McCurry. "The
airplane works very well for this; we can turn an 11-hour truck ride into an
easy 3-hour flight for the dogs."
The ASPCA received a very special delivery, when McCurry brought
two greyhound girls, Connie and Jerzey, for adoption. "We are happy to be one of
the major sponsors of the tour," says the ASPCA's Jacque Schultz, Director,
The tour received great news coverage, and Schultz even accompanied McCurry and the canines for their appearances on the CBS Early Show and CNN;
backstage, says Schultz, "The girls charmed the pants off actress Edie Falco,
who couldn't stop petting them."
For more information on the
Great Greyhound Goodwill Air Tour, please visit Wings for Greyhounds
ANY FLEA CONTROL PRODUCTS ? READ THE LABEL FIRST !
Is your pet bugged by fleas? The ASPCA Animal Poison Control
Center (APCC) and the Environmental Protection Agency have teamed up to educate
companion animal caretakers about the proper use of flea products.
"We receive a large number of calls related to the inappropriate use of flea
products in the home," says APCC Director, Dr. Steven Hansen. "In many cases,
problems would not have occurred if the pet owner had taken the time to
carefully read and follow the label instructions &
Please check out the following tips for keeping your pets safe and
|ALWAYS read all instructions on the label before using any flea-control
product on your pet. Never use insecticide on very young, pregnant,
debilitated or elderly animals without first consulting your veterinarian. |
|If you're using a fogger or home-premise spray, remove all pets--and their
food and water bowls--from the area for the period specified on the container.
Open windows or use fans to air out the household, and let the product dry
completely before allowing your animals to return--strong fumes can irritate
your pet's eyes and upper respiratory system.|
|Bird in the house? Companion avians are more sensitive to fumes and
usually require more time than other species before they can safely return to
an area that's been treated for fleas. It's best to contact your veterinary
health professional for advice on product usage around birds. |
|Take care when using sprays, shampoos or mousse near your pet's eyes and
|Observe your pet closely after using flea-control products; report any
unusual behavior to your veterinarian. As an alternative to using flea
products directly on a pet, why not use a flea comb instead? This is a great
option for pets who enjoy being groomed, but dislike baths or the application
of a spray. |
For more information on keeping Fluffy and Fido free from fleas
& what you can do to prevent your pet from being poisoned--visit
see our Poisonous to Pets
BEWARE OF BACKYARD DANGERS!
Even if your pet only goes on a daily romp in
your backyard, always be there to supervise--and please make sure your pets stay
safe with the following tips from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center:
|Always store lawn and garden products in areas that are
inaccessible to animals. Ingestion of large amounts of fertilizer, for
example, can cause severe gastric upset and gastrointestinal obstruction.|
|Do not allow pets to go on lawns or in gardens that have been
treated with fertilizers, herbicides or insecticides until the time listed on
the label by the manufacturer.|
|Know which plants and trees can be poisonous to your pets.
our poison page)|
|Cardiotoxic plants--those that can affect the heart--include lily of
the valley, oleander, rhododendron, azalea, yew and foxglove.
|Rhubarb leaves and certain species of lily can cause kidney failure.
|Cycads and some species of mushrooms can result in liver failure.
Remember, toxic and nontoxic mushrooms can grow in the same area; to be on
the safe side, always assume that any ingested mushroom is highly toxic
until it has been identified.|
If you suspect that your animal companion has eaten a poisonous plant, call
your veterinarian or the APCC's emergency hotline-- (888) 4-ANI-HELP
--for round-the-clock telephone assistance. If you are unsure of the species of
plant ingested, you may need to bring the plant to a nursery for
For more information on what's toxic and what's not--and what you can do to
prevent your pet from being poisoned--visit
see our Poisonous to Pets
NOTHING TO SNEEZE AT
Got allergies? You don't necessarily have to give away the cat, says
Dr. Thomas Platts-Mills, head of Allergy and Asthma at University of Virginia.
"You usually hear that families should get rid of their cats," the doctor told
MSNBC, "but we do not have enough evidence to say to families with allergies or
asthma that they should do this." In fact, recent studies show that children
living with a dog or cat at home get less asthma--with two pets offering more
protection than one. This research supports the current theory among allergists
that exposing a child to dust, pet dander and other allergens at a young age
will help him or her build up immunities to them. (In Sweden, for example, a
whopping 80 percent of children who are allergic to felines never had a cat!) If
you or your child is allergic to your animal companion, however, Platts-Mills
recommends that you get rid of your carpeting, cover mattresses and cushions
with zippered, plastic casings, and use a HEPA air filter to remove airborne
OF CANINE KIDNEY FAILURE FROM GRAPES
and RAISINSIn response to reports of dogs developing kidney failure after
eating large amounts of grapes or raisins, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control
Center (APCC) conducted a review of all related cases in its database.
Veterinary toxicologists found that all of the companion canines developed
vomiting within six hours of ingestion; the estimated amounts of grapes or
raisins eaten ranged from nine ounces to two pounds. Other commonly reported
signs included diarrhea, anorexia, lethargy and abdominal pain, and all of the
dogs developed evidence of kidney disfunction. Adds APCC's Charlotte Means, DVM,
"Whether the ingested grapes were purchased fresh from grocery stores or grown
in private yards didn't seem to matter, nor did the brand eaten." Clinical signs
lasted for several days--sometimes even weeks. And after aggressive treatment,
which included intravenous fluids and medications, half of the dogs recovered,
while the others died or had to be euthanized.
At present, the exact role of grapes or raisins in these cases--what exactly
is the toxic component--is still unclear. But a dog who has ingested large
amounts can now be diagnosed and treated successfully. The first line of defense
is decontamination, and the canine should be hospitalized and placed on IV
fluids. If the blood work appears normal after three days, it's unlikely that
kidney failure will occur; if there is evidence of renal failure, more
aggressive treatment--including fluids, medication and possibly dialysis--is
called for. For more on treating and identifying poisoning from grapes and
raisins, please visit
If you suspect that your dog has ingested large quantities of raisins or
grapes--or any other potentially dangerous substance--call your veterinarian or
the APCC's emergency hotline at 1-888-4-ANI-HELP for round-the-clock telephone
assistance. For more information on poison prevention, go to
see our Poisonous to Pets
PET HEALTH ALERT:
HOLD THE GUACAMOLE, POR FAVOR
Thinking of giving Polly a little something extra with her cracker? While
there are a few foods that both humans and pets can enjoy, there are others
that, while perfectly palatable for people, can be dangerous to our animal
companions. The fruit of the avocado, for example, poses a threat to a number of
species. "Avocados contain a toxic component called persin," explains Jill A.
Richardson, DVM, of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), "which has
been shown to produce cardiac tissue damage, respiratory distress and mammary
gland damage in a variety of animals--including
horses, goats, sheep, cattle, rabbits, fish and birds."
Consider the case of the cockatiel who had been given some guacamole by his
owner. Within four hours of ingestion, the bird started behaving
strangely--puffing his feathers and acting uncomfortable--and got progressively
worse. The bird's owner brought him to an emergency clinic, and the veterinarian
there contacted the APCC. Says Richardson, "We gave him recommendations on
treating the animal--an oxygen cage and diuretics to remove the fluid on the
bird's lungs." The animal was hospitalized for several days, but recovered. "And
needless to say," adds Richardson, "guacamole is NOT on the menu any longer!"
If you suspect that your animal companion has eaten avocado--or any other
potentially dangerous substance--call your veterinarian or the APCC's emergency
hotline at (888) 4-ANI-HELP for round-the-clock telephone assistance. For more
information on poison prevention, visit the
Poison Control Center.
see our Poisonous to Pets
PET HEALTH ALERT: TIPS TO
According to Jill A. Richardson, DVM, of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
(APCC), most cases of antifreeze poisoning in dogs and cats occur around the
pet's own home. "That's why we need to educate vehicle owners on the proper use,
storage and disposal of antifreeze," says Richardson, who recommends taking the
following precautions to keep pets happy and healthy--and safe from accidental
|Clean up antifreeze spills immediately.|
|Check your car regularly for leaks.|
|Store antifreeze in clearly marked containers out of your pet's reach.|
|Never allow your pet to have access to the area when you are draining
antifreeze from your car.|
|Consider switching to products containing propylene glycol, such as
Prestone Low Tox, which are less toxic than conventional ethylene glycol
antifreeze. (Sam says ALL antifreeze, ALL brands are
|If you suspect that your pet has ingested antifreeze,
(of any kind) contact your veterinarian
In addition to offering information
APCC also runs an emergency hotline--1-888-4-ANI-HELP--that provides
round-the-clock telephone assistance.
Sam's Dog Tip on Chocolate...
That box of Russell Stover is probably
just what your sweetheart would like to see for Birthday,
Anniversary or any occasion...BUT...Those
little chocolate coated anythings can be deadly for your furry four legged best
Chocolate has Theo
bromine. Theo bromine in dogs can induce irregular
heartbeat, irritate the gastrointestinal tract, and trigger epileptic seizures.
Cocoa, Cocoa Powder and baking chocolate have even higher amounts of this
Chocolate is NOT a doggie treat.
Seek Veterinarian help immediately if you believe a dog has consumed
More on Chocolate
see this link. (thank you German
Shepherd Rescue of New England)
HONORS GIVEN TO POLICE DOG FOUND DEAD IN WTC
Ground Zero workers recovered the remains of
Sirius, the yellow Labrador retriever believed to be the only working canine to
perish in the September 11 attack. The four-year-old bomb-detection dog was
trained to search vehicles coming into the trade center.
Sirius' handler, Officer David Lim of the New York Port Authority, was in his
office in the World Trade Center when he heard the explosion on an upper floor.
Assuming that Sirius would be safe in the basement kennel, Lim went to
investigate and, as it turned out, assist in rescue efforts. The officer was
helping to evacuate a woman on the fifth floor when the building collapsed on
them. He escaped to the sixth floor--which had become the top of the rubble--and
was rescued five hours later.
Doctors forbade Lim from searching Ground Zero because of the emotional toll it
could have taken on him, but the officer closely followed the rescue efforts,
and he was immediately contacted when his partner was found. "There was a
flag over his bag and I carried his remains out with another officer, John
Martin," Lim told the New Jersey Record. "Everyone saluted. All the machinery
was stopped--the same thing that is done for human police officers and
GERMANY GRANTS ANIMALS CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
Germany became the first nation in
Europe to grant constitutional rights to animals. In May 2002, 543
lawmakers voted in favor of adding "and animals" to a clause obliging the state
to protect the dignity of humans. Animal activists hope this will lead to
tighter restrictions on animal testing and increased funding for research into
alternatives to the use of animals in laboratory experiments.
CARE INFO TO GO
Got a feeling Fifi's got fleas? How can you tell if your cat's too
fat? Why does Dino dig all day? If you've got questions about your animal
companion's health or behavior, there's a good chance you'll find the answers
online at the
ASPCA Ani-Med Pet Care center. This
comprehensive section on our website features the latest info on more than 120
topics, from Hairballs to Bite Prevention, developed by our experts here at the
SPREAD THE ASPCA MESSAGE TO ONE PERSON TODAY!
Have any friends and family who care about animals as much as
you do and want to make a difference? Get ASPCA News
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