Keeping Your Dog Safe from Toxic Blue-Green Algae

Veterinarians around the country are warning dog owners about the hazards of exposing your dog to bodies of standing water that have algae containing a poisonous bacterium known as cyanobacteria.

Toxic blue-green algae was responsible for the deaths of several dogs in the US and Canada this summer.

Veterinarians report that the algae itself is not harmful, but if your dog ingests water with algae containing the bacteria, she could be at risk for serious health problems.

The Animal Poison Control Center’s Pet Poison Helpline lists the following symptoms to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool or black, tarry stool
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Shock
  • Excessive secretions (e.g., salivation, lacrimation, etc.)
  • Neurologic signs (including muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, paralysis, etc.)
  • Blue discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes
  • Difficulty breathing

There is no antidote for cyanobacteria poisoning, so prevention and immediate veterinary care are essential.

Keep your dog away from bodies of standing water that contain algae blooms.  If you suspect that your dog has ingested water containing this toxin, seek veterinary care right away.

For more information on blue-green algae poisoning, check out this post, including a video, on the Today Show website.

 

New Poisonous Plants List for Pet Owners

The folks at the rover.com website have created a very useful new list of poisonous plants for dog and cat owners.

The list includes photographs of each plant to help in identification, as well as the plant’s common name and scientific name.

You can find plants that are toxic to dogs and/or cats, as well as review the list by toxicity level and whether the plant is a garden, house, or wild species.

The entry for each plant also includes a quick reference list of common symptoms to watch out for.

Be sure to check it out, and as always, keep the web address and phone number for the Animal Poison Control Center’s Pet Poison Helpline handy:

https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/

(855) 764-7661

Thanks, Rover!

 

How to Keep Your Yard Safe for Pets

Here are a few springtime safety tips for pet owners who enjoy spending time with their fur kids in the garden!

Most dog and cat owners have a good idea about what plants are safe for their pets, and which ones can be toxic.  If you are unsure about what to plant, be sure to check out the ASPCA’s toxic plant list before heading to the garden center.

Pesticides in the garden can also be hazardous to our pets.  Make sure the products you use are pet-safe.  Health and safety experts recommend learning about the integrated pest management approach, which minimizes the use of toxic pesticides.

Besides plants and pesticides, there are other less obvious pet safety risks in the garden that even the most responsible pet owners may not think about.  Here’s a brief overview:

Standing water

Ponds, birdbaths, and other still water sources can harbor algae and other substances that may harm a dog or cat that drinks from them.  Provide a bowl of fresh drinking water for your animals when they are outside.

Fencing

Is your backyard fencing tall enough and strong enough to keep pets in and other critters like coyotes out?  Be sure to check your fencing for any gaps, holes, or wood rot.  It’s also a good idea to check the locks and latches on all gates.

Compost

Keep curious pets (and other animal visitors) out of your compost bins.  Compost, especially moldy compost, can be harmful if ingested.  Keep bins securely lidded or in an area that’s inaccessible to pets.

Mulch

Certain kinds of mulch can be toxic if eaten by pets.  Mulch made from cocoa shells is especially toxic to dogs.  Safe types of mulch include pine and cedar.  However, all mulch pieces can become a choking hazard if swallowed, so supervision is always a good idea.

Interested in learning more?  Click HERE for more pet garden safety tips.

 

Holiday Pet Safety Tips from the AVMA

Are you keeping your pets safe this holiday season?  Lots of tempting food and decorations around the house could lead to an unexpected holiday visit to the vet!

Here are a few common-sense holiday pet safety tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Certain people foods are toxic or unhealthy for our dogs and cats.  Make sure these popular holiday food items are out of reach:

  • Chocolate, sweets, and baked goods (the artificial sweetener xylitol is toxic to dogs)
  • Turkey skin and bones
  • Onions, raisins, nuts, and grapes
  • Alcohol
  • Raw yeast dough

Some holiday decorations can pose health hazards to pets, including:

  • Unsecured Christmas trees (and Christmas tree water that contains additives)
  • Tinsel, lights, and ornaments
  • Flowers and plants (including amaryllis, mistletoe, holly, and poinsettias)
  • Potpourri and lit candles

Here’s a cute infographic on holiday pet dangers from the AVMA that you can keep as a reminder!

 

 

Mushroom Safety for Dogs

In many parts of the world, fall is the time of year when mushrooms make their appearance in woods and other natural areas.  Is your dog at risk of poisoning if she eats a wild mushroom while out on a walk?

According to the North American Mycological Association, only 1% of mushrooms are considered to be “highly toxic” to pets.

There are some mushrooms that are attractive to dogs, probably because of their odor.  There are also mushrooms that are toxic to dogs while being harmless to humans.

Some mushrooms contain compounds that are dangerous, and sometimes deadly, if consumed by dogs.

NAMA recommends that dog owners take special care with these mushrooms when out on walks:

Amanita phalloides

Amanita muscaria

Amanita pantherina

Dogs can go into a deep, coma-like sleep after consuming certain mushroom toxins.  Other mushroom toxins can cause gastrointestinal distress.  The effects can last for hours.

If you are concerned that your dog ate a poisonous mushroom, seek veterinary care right away.  You can also call the Animal Poison Control Hotline or one of the NAMA experts in your area.

Click HERE for more information on mushroom poisoning in pets.