PET POISON MYTHS YOU SHOULD KNOW

03/13/17

If your social network is full of fellow pet lovers, it’s safe to say that you’ve seen your fair share of pet health related memes. Lately, the most common memes in this category are “Deadly Pet Poisons” and “Toxic Foods” infographics. With aesthetically pleasing designs, a catchy headline, and easily digestible facts, these infographics are highly shareable and gain a lot of attention on social media (especially when targeted to protective pet owners). With hundreds of these memes being shared daily, how do you know whether the information is accurate? Since March is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month, we thought we would debunk some of the most common pet poison myths circulating the web.

DISCLAIMER: It’s always best to exercise caution when monitoring your pet’s food intake. Just because one item on this list may be less toxic than another, it doesn’t necessarily mean it should be eaten. If you have any questions about the items on this list or observe a change in your pet’s behaviour after consuming any of the following foods, please contact your veterinarian or local animal clinic immediately.

Peanut butter

While many pet owners believe peanut butter is a safe treat for dogs, this is not always the case. Many brands of peanut butter are now being made with xylitol, an artificial sweetener commonly used in candies, baked goods and chewing gum that can be very toxic to dogs. Before purchasing peanut butter, do a thorough review of the ingredient list as it only takes a small amount of xylitol to cause toxicity in your pet.

Pistachios

When it comes to pet poison prevention, nuts have gotten a bad reputation. While they are not actually considered toxic, consuming a lot of pistachios can still upset your pet’s stomach and lead to pancreatitis. They could also cause an obstruction if your pet swallows a pistachio with a shell.

Almonds

It’s not technically true to say that all almonds are poisonous to your pet. Sweet almonds do cause digestive problems in pets, but it’s bitter almonds that are considered toxic. Sweet almonds are most common in North America, but bitter almonds can be found in some speciality shops. Always check the packaging before purchasing and avoid stocking up on the bitter variety if you share a home with a hungry (and curious) canine.

Chocolate

For new puppy parents and veteran canine caregivers alike, chocolate toxicity is a lesson in Dog 101. Unfortunately, accidents happen and when a canine sneaks a small bite of chocolate, it can understandably send owners into a panic. What may put some owners’ minds at ease is the fact that the amount and type of chocolate ingested (dark chocolate being the worst culprit), as well as the size of your canine, can determine the severity of the sickness. For instance, a larger breed would need to eat a large amount of milk chocolate (several pounds) before the situation becomes deadly. However, it would take a much smaller amount to threaten the life of a small breed. Dark and raw chocolate is a much bigger concern and should be taken very seriously if ingested by a pet.

Of course, we’re not suggesting that you suddenly begin to feed chocolate to your pup. It should still be kept out of reach from dogs at all times to avoid a medical emergency. If you have concerns about the quantity of chocolate that your dog has ingested, take your furry friend to the nearest animal clinic immediately.

Poinsettias

During the holiday season, poinsettias get singled out for causing toxicity in dogs and cats. While it’s true that these seasonal plants can cause stomach and mouth irritation if eaten, some animal experts consider their toxicity to be greatly exaggerated. There are far more dangerous plants that don’t get nearly as much attention as poinsettias do. For example, lilies can cause kidney failure in cats if even a small part of the flower is ingested. While they make for a beautiful bouquet, avoid sending lilies to a cat owner.

Mistletoe

Speaking of holiday plants, mistletoe is also misrepresented as a deadly plant. A small nibble of American mistletoe may cause an upset stomach, but is unlikely to pose a serious health risk to your pet. However, like many myths, this one does have some truth to it. When it comes to pet poison control, American mistletoe is often guilty by association because of its European counterpart. European mistletoe is considered highly toxic, poisonous, and deadly. While it’s not typically sold in North America, it’s worth knowing where your plants come from so you can make your house a poison-free home.

While we’ve done our best to play the role of “myth buster” and demystify some of the most common pet poison myths, please remember that exercising caution is always advised when monitoring your pet’s food intake. Just because one item on this list is less toxic than another, it does not mean it should be eaten in excess. As always, if you have any questions or concerns about the information found in this article, don’t hesitate to contact your trusted veterinarian. We hope your home will continue to be a safe haven for your canine and feline friends!  

If at any time you think your pet has come into contact with a toxic substance, contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline. If you have coverage with Pets Plus Us, your call is free as part of your Blue Ribbon Benefits. Refer to your User Guide for the phone number or call us at 1-800-364-8422. If you don’t have Pets Plus Us pet insurance coverage, you can contact the Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680 with any questions or concerns. Please be aware there is a $49.00/per case fee, but it may save your pet’s life!