Vail Pet Talk column: Fall brings a new list of threats to your pet
October 7, 2016
Fall is in the air, the leaves are changing and cold weather is on its way. Though this is a time we think the pet emergency season from summer outdoor fun is coming to an end, this time of year poses a new set of risks for your pet.
Firstly, rodenticide exposure, commonly known as "D-CON," is common. Mouse poison or rat poison, as it is described, poses a huge risk to your pet, as these compounds contain a very toxic substance that can block your pet's ability to clot their blood, resulting in increased bleeding times, a problem that leads to eventual death.
Time between exposure to the poison and actual life-threatening disease can be up to a week, so many people think all is OK if their pet is acting normal immediately after exposure. It is imperative to not take a risk. See your emergency veterinarian as soon as possible to induce vomiting and obtain vitamin K, which is the antidote. Because the amount eaten sometimes is not known, it is important to still treat your pet and not wait until it's too late.
A second common pet emergency in the fall is ethylene glycol, or antifreeze toxicity.
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This substance is one of the worst fall and wintertime chemical spills. It can be extremely palatable for your pet, and even the smallest amount can cause serious and life-threatening kidney disease.
Do not delay
The first signs of exposure can be when your pet appears drunk. Being aware of chemicals around your garage or car and knowing if your pet could have been exposed is crucial in identifying this toxin. Do not delay, though. The sooner you seek treatment for this, which involves hospitalization on intravenous fluids and administration of the antidote, the better the chances of a positive outcome.
Third, chocolate exposure in the fall is a common emergency due to Halloween treats.
Chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine (a lot like caffeine), which is toxic to dogs. Depending on the type of chocolate, exposure can be significant or minimal. For example, dark chocolate contains the most theobromine, whereas milk chocolate will only cause mild intoxication.
Theobromine exposure results in clinical signs occurring four to 24 hours post-ingestion and typically results in vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, hyperactivity, rapid breathing, lack of coordination, increased heart rate and even seizures. It is important if you know your pet has had chocolate exposure to call your veterinarian immediately and, through stimulating of vomiting, administration of activated charcoal and supportive care, hopefully the recovery will be smooth.
Fourth, grapes and raisins, which commonly can be included in Halloween snacks, are highly toxic to your pet's kidneys and again pose a risk to your pet. The sooner the treatment, the better the outcome.
Finally, as the cold weather approaches, often, your pet does not get out as much and the amount of exercise is drastically reduced. Though this is not an emergency, it does present an issue with respect to obesity and the resulting health concerns. Consider reducing the amount of food intake and monitor his or her weight during this season.
Finally, be safe this fall season, and be sure to have your veterinarian's number readily available should any of these emergencies happen.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.