It began as an innocent walk in the park: A 9-month-old, 60 lb. German Shepherd mix went out for a stroll with her owner before spending 30 minutes alone in the backyard. When the dog reentered the house, her owner noticed that her eyes were rolling back and that her gait was uncoordinated. She also defecated in the house.
At the critical care facility, things only got worse: the pup was drooling, feverish and began seizing and vomiting. That was when veterinarians discovered the root of her illness: blue-green algae. The owner confirmed that the algae had been present in a backyard pond.
After 18 hours of critical care, including emergency intubation and ventilation for respiratory failure, the dog’s life was saved. She was discharged after three more days in the hospital, and fortunately, she is now back to her normal, happy self. But blue-green algae can form almost anywhere and can be a danger to any unsuspecting pet parent. That’s why the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to keep you informed about this toxic bacterium.
Members of the phylum Cyanobacteria, blue-green algae usually form on or near bodies of water during warm weather months. It is typically found in ponds and lakes, but can also be present in oceans, fresh water, damp soil, backyard fountains and even on rocks. Dogs can develop poisoning when they drink from or swim in contaminated water sources. If consumed, blue-green algae can cause severe neurologic or liver signs. Signs of blue-green algae toxicity include:
Prevention is key. Don’t allow your pets to drink from stagnant ponds, lakes or other bodies of water that have bluish-green scum on the surface or around the edges. Blue-green algae cells can also stick to a pet’s fur and be ingested when the animal cleans itself, so think twice before allowing your pet to jump into a body of water.
If you think that your pet is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately!
The Sago Palm (Cycas Revoluta) is a stocky, spike-leaved plant that is often used for landscaping. It is most commonly seen in Southern states, but thanks to increasing availability in gardening and big box stores nationwide, the APCC has seen a spike of more than 200% in Sago Palm toxicity cases nationwide. 50-75% of ingestion cases result in fatalities.
“It used to be that we only got calls from places like Texas, Florida and California, but about three years ago we started seeing cases pop up other places,” says APCC Medical Director Tina Wismer. Because people in Northern regions may not be as familiar with this plant, we want to arm pet-parents with this information. While the Sago Palm’s seeds are the most poisonous component, the entire plant is toxic. Clinical signs of Sago Palm toxicity include:
Blood clotting disorders
Liver damage or liver failure
Death can occur without immediate treatment.
If you think that your animal is ill or may have ingested a poisonous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately!
Summer is finally here, but do you know which popular warm weather items could be poisonous to your pets? Common hazardous household items include insect repellent, alcohol, sunscreen and glow sticks—the culprits may be surprising!
In preparation for the upcoming summer months, we are hosting a live Twitter chat with Dr. Tina Wismer, Medical Director of the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, and Dr. Justine Lee, board-certified emergency critical care specialist and toxicologist. Join us on Wednesday, June 10 from 3:00 to 4:00 P.M. ET as Dr. Wismer and Dr. Lee answer all of your questions related to protecting your pets from harmful substances.
We’ll also test your pet poison knowledge with a few trivia questions. Two participants will win ASPCA coolers, and one participant will win a T-shirt!
On Friday, April 17, the FDA issued a new report about the danger that human topical creams can pose to animals. In light of this new safety alert, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) wants to make sure that all pet parents are armed with the latest information to keep your furry friends safe.
Compounded topical creams (or ointments) may contain common and potent ingredients known as NSAIDS (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Examples include diclofenac and flurbiprofen. Although these ingredients are commonly found in creams used to relieve sore joints and muscles, they can be toxic to your pets.
Pet ingestion of even the smallest amount of human topical cream can lead to serious issues, especially in cats. Note that a small exposure can even constitute a pet licking their owner’s skin after recent application of the product. Typical signs of exposure include:
Acute Kidney Failure
Death can occur without immediate treatment after exposure
Please remember that topical products are still considered human medication—the number one cause of pet poisoning in 2014—and should be kept away from your pets at all times. If your pet does come into contact with one of these products, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately!
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, IL., handled more than 167,000 calls involving pets exposed to possibly poisonous substances in 2014. Nearly 16% of those calls were from pet parents whose pets got into medicines intended for human use, putting this category at the top of the toxin list for the seventh year in a row.
Here are the 10 most common pet toxins of 2014 ranked in order of call volume:
Human prescription medications are most often exposed to pets, as mentioned above. The prescriptions that caused the most concern correlated with the most popular medications prescribed to humans.
Over-the-counter medications, including herbal and other natural supplements, attracted greater concern this year than in previous years resulting in approximately 25,000 calls. This category is exceptionally large, encompassing more than 6,900 different products.
Insecticides dropped to the third slot this year, comprising 9.1% of calls to the APCC (15,000 cases). These products can be very dangerous, especially if the label directions are not followed.
Household items were the cause for concern in more than 13,500 cases, especially paints and cleaning products.
Human foods are appealing to pets, especially dogs. Dogs can get into serious trouble by ingesting onions, garlic, grapes, raisins and xylitol, a sugar substitute which can be life-threatening for animals. Approximately 13,200 cases involved human foods in 2014.
Veterinary medications made up 7% of total cases in 2014. Pet parents should be aware that chewable medications are very tasty and pets might ingest an entire bottle if it is not kept out of their reach.
Chocolate ingestion is very common. At the APCC, chocolate calls make up 6% of the total call volume—more than 30 calls a day! The darker the chocolate, the more potential it has to do harm.
Plants represent approximately 5% of the calls to the APCC and moved up a spot since 2014. Most of these calls involve cats and houseplants.
Rodenticides are made to kill mice and rats, but they can also kill pets if ingested. APCC handled more than 7,500 calls about rodenticides last year.
Lawn and garden products round out the top ten, accounting for about 2.7% of all calls. Many of these exposures occurred because people did not store lawn and garden products out of the reach of pets.
Want more poison control information at your fingertips? Download our free APCC by ASPCA mobile app, which features a searchable database of more than 275 toxins as well as helpful information for pet parents of dogs, cats, horses and birds. The app helps users quickly and accurately identify common hazards.
If you have any reason to suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.