1) Antifreeze (propylene glycol) a. Chemical exposure – this includes both antifreeze and de-icing solutions. Exposure to these chemicals is usually accidental and occurs as a result of the normal curiosity of both dogs and cats an as well as the scent and taste of antifreeze solutions. While few people change the antifreeze in their vehicles coolant system, overheating on a warm day can result in spillage onto the driveway or street surface. Many of these products have a sweet taste which explains their attraction to primarily dogs, although cats may also become affected if they were to taste and sample the spilled product Conventional antifreeze (ethylene glycol) causes problems by virtue of its similarity to and utilization of the same liver enzyme that is responsible for metabolizing spirits containing ethanol. Like ethanol, ethylene glycol is rapidly absorbed across the wall of the stomach and has a similar onset and progression of signs – first mental confusion, incoordination, sedation progressing to semi-coma and coma (if untreated)coupled with the onset of kidney failure. Depending on the time frame from exposure and consumption to diagnosis and treatment, the prognosis can range from fair (with early administration of antidotal treatment) to poor resulting from end-stage kidney disease. As with many problems, avoidance of exposure as well as usage of environmentally friendly propylene glycol in place of the standard ethylene glycol preparations limits the potential for antifreeze toxicity. Low Tox brand products contain propylene glycol; ask your auto repair person to use these products in place of ethylene glycol.
2) Lawn and Garden products Fertilizers pose a hazard as far as their nitrogen content; ingestion or skin contact followed by ingestion typically leads to GI upsets. It is the herbicidal additive to a fertilizer product that may cause the more significant health problem. Avoidance of exposure can be minimized by careful application planning and watering after broadcast spreading. This would limit both exposure to pets via oral ingestion and skin contact.. Cocoa mulch products can also be hazardous to pets (see prior blog article on chocolates – the same principles apply).
3) Rodent Control and Baits With the onset of cooler temperatures, small rodents often move inside to seek shelter and food. The use of rodent baits is almost universal; however, rodent baits can affect small animal health and lead to significant illness following inadvertent primary exposure. Careful placement of a bait in an area that is shielded from entry by the household pets is the best strategy. Typically tertiary exposure to a household pet by ingestion of a rodent that has ingested poison bait does not cause significant health hazard. Containment of birdseed in containers with lids also eliminates the lure of an easy food source in a garage area.
4) Liquid Potpourries Potpourries are hazardous to pets and care should be used when the simmer pots are brought out in the fall. Make sure lids are covered and spillage is promptly cleaned from counter surfaces.