The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) handles thousands of cases of animal poisoning resulting from plants, pills and other ingested items every year. But not all pet poisons are so apparent—in fact, one major risk may be lurking where you least expect it: On food.
To arm you with potentially life-saving information, APCC wants to educate pet parents about the dangers of moldy food. Food mold, also known as Penicillium spp, is a fungus that grows on aging food. It is often visible to the naked eye, and, if ingested, can make a pet very ill.
While mold on dog food should certainly be avoided, the real danger occurs when pets get into household trash or eat garbage outside, including compost piles and moldy nuts or fruits that have fallen from trees. Fungal neurotoxins on old food can make your four-legged friend very ill. Common signs that your dog has eaten mold include:
Elevated body temperature
Symptoms can last 24-48 hours, and can be life-threatening if left untreated. Available treatments are primarily focused on controlling the tremors and keeping the pet cool and hydrated, however, the best way to protect your pet is to not let them eat moldy food at all. Keep an eye on your dog at all times, especially when outside, and avoid leaving your dog outside of your yard unattended.
If your dog is observed eating moldy food, contact your vet or APCC immediately to learn the correct action to take. Onset of signs can be very rapid, so if your dog is showing symptoms, take him to a veterinary clinic immediately.
If you think that your pet is ill or may have ingested any poisonous substance, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 immediately!
Each fall, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) sees an increase in back-to-school related pet poisonings. One of the most common issues involves dogs getting into kids’ backpacks and lunchboxes. Fortunately, most of these exposures are fairly easy to prevent if pet parents know what to watch out for. Here are a few safety tips from APCC experts for this back-to-school season:
After a long school day, many kids dump their backpacks on the floor when they arrive at home. If possible, designate an area in your home for backpacks out of reach of your pets.
Some dogs are very good at unzipping backpacks and helping themselves to the contents inside. If you have young kids who aren't able to reliably place their backpacks in a secure area, or if you have very crafty pets, the next best thing is to be very careful about what is packed in your child’s backpack.
Common backpack contents like sugar free gum (with xylitol), raisins and medications should never be accessible to pets
APCC commonly receives calls related to ADHD medications (which often contain amphetamines), albuterol inhalers and over the counter pain medications—all of which can cause serious and life-threatening toxicity in dogs and cats.
Kids often leave leftover food in their lunchboxes. APCC has received reports of pets becoming very ill after getting into lunchboxes containing toxic foods such as grapes, raisins, onions, macadamia nuts and occasionally, moldy foods. Please visit our People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets page for a complete list of potentially dangerous items.
We’re wishing your family a happy—and safe!—back-to-school season
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!