Common household substances can be hazardous for your canine. Stack them away and make your home pooch-friendly.
Household products for specific uses may be hazardous to pets with accidental exposure. Exposure of the household substances may be dermal, oral, ocular or inhalational. Some of the important indoor substances with higher toxic potentiality are described.
Soaps and detergents
Products: This class includes soaps, shampoos, spray cleaners, dishwash liquids, powders, laundry products, disinfectants, fabric softeners and sanitisers. Bath soaps and bar soaps usually have low toxic potential, causing mild gastroenteritis with vomition on ingestion. In case your pet accidentally ingests such products, use demulcents and diluents like milk, rinsing with water for dermal and ocular/eye exposure and induction of emesis if soap is non-alkaline (non-corrosive). If there is no spontaneous vomition within thirty minutes of ingestion, then give fluid and electrolyte therapy with assistance of your local veterinarian.
Symptoms: Toxicity related clinical signs are vomition, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal discomfort, intravascular haemolysis in impaired liver condition, dermal irritation, corneal damage; oral-corrosive damage, salivation, muscle weakness, respiratory and CNS depression, seizures, collapse, coma predominantly seen with cationic detergents.
Products: Product examples are toilet bowl cleaners, automobile batteries, gun barrel cleaning fluid and swimming pool cleaning agents. Other examples are drain cleaners, washing products, liquid cleansers, etc.
Symptoms: On dermal and ocular/eye exposure: serious burns, extremely painful, corneal/conjuctival necrosis, perforation and opacity. On ingestion: corrosive burns of mucosal membranes (milky white/grey, turning to wrinkled black). Vocalisation, depression, panting, inability to swallow, vomition with blood, abdominal pain, polydypsia, respiratory distress, shock, secondary pneumonia from aspiration of vapours, gastrointestinal bleeding, perforation and fistula are the other signs observed depending on the severity.
Phenols: Sources of phenolic compounds include flooring materials, coal tar, creosote, tar paper, etc.
Symptoms: It results in intense pain and skin of exposed area of pet becomes black. Also may cause corrosive burns of mouth, oropharynx, and oesophagus. Vomition, salivation, ataxia, panting, weakness, tremour, coma, seizures, methhaemoglobinaemia, respiratory alkalosis, severe liver and kidney damage. Ocular exposure is treated by sterile saline wash.
Symptoms: Generally, the toxicity of bleaches is of lower degree, resulting in irritation of ropharynx, salivation, vomition and abdominal pain. Bleaching of hairs, pulmonary irritation- coughing, dyspnoea and retching on inhalation may also be seen. Non-chlorine bleach products (sodium perborate, sodium peroxide) are alkaline and severe gastric irritants cause renal damage and CNS (Central Nervous System) excitation, depending on the amount ingested.
They are composed of aluminium chloride and aluminium chlorohydrate which have moderate toxicity potential.
Symptoms: Ingestion can cause oral irritation, necrosis, gastroenteritis (diarrhoea) and nephrosis (urine voiding problems).
Solvents and alcohols
Products: The most commonly encountered solvent (acetone: sources: nail polish remover, varnishes, glues) and alcohols include isopropanol (perfumes, cologne, grooming products), methanol (antifreeze products, automotive wind shield cleanser, consumer products) and alcohol (alcoholic beverages, cosmetics, mouthwashes, common baker’s and brewer’s yeast).
Symptoms: Clinical signs noticed are CNS and respiratory depression acidosis, ataxia, hypothermia, cardiac arrest, coma, etc.
Sources: Gasoline (petrol), kerosene, motor fuels, solvent paints and vehicles for pesticides. Because of low surface tension, chance of aspiration is most common.
Symptoms: Dermal exposure may result in dermatitis. Oral exposure results in aspiration pneumonia, cough, hyperthermia, cyanosis, CNS depression and pulmonary oedema.
Note: Do not make the pet to vomit using Emetics (saline solution) and oily purgatives (liquid paraffin) are contraindicated, as they increase the risk of aspiration.
Products: Automotive or dry cell batteries contain sulfuric acid that can be irritating on contact with eyes, skin and gastrointestinal tract, which is treated accordingly as with acid exposure. The sources of small disc/button batteries include batteries used in calculators, cameras, hearing aids, watches, the content being mainly mercuric oxide. The dry cell batteries commonly used in toy flash lights, may contain alkaline (NaOH, KOH; alkaline batteries) or acidic compounds (ammonium chloride, manganese dioxide, heavy metals- Li, Ni, Zn, Ag, Cd) in them.
Symptoms: On ingestion, most of the intact batteries pass through digestive tract within 24 to 36 hours without producing any major adverse effects, except for mechanical obstruction occasionally. Gastrointestinal distress (off feed, dull and depressed) may occur resulting from retention and obstruction, which has to be diagnosed by radiography and has to be corrected by endoscopy and surgery. If battery is chewed and split apart, it may cause corrosive damage depending on the chemical content in it. Timely surgical intervention together with the administration of saline cathartics, enemas and appropriate chelation therapy with specific chelating agents if any (e.g. DMSA or D-Penicillamine as for Pb), can minimise the corrosive damage caused. Lead is the major source of toxicity among the metals, resulting in acute or chronic toxicity upon ingestion. The sources of lead are paints, batteries, solder, plumbing supplies, lubricating material, ceramic containers, Pb pipes, toys, inks, dyes, used oil from vehicles that burn leaded gasoline. The clinical signs noticed are: acute-CNS excitability signs, convulsions, behavioural changes, ataxia, tremour, blindness; chronic-gastrointestinal disturbance signs, vomition, pica, diarrhoea and abdominal pain.
Cyanoacrylate adhesives (superglue)
Uncured cyanoacrylate adhesives form an almost instantaneous bond on contact with hair/skin resulting in annoyance and frustration of the animal. Cured ones are nontoxic upon ingestion. Dermal exposed areas are soaked with warm soapy water as quickly as possible and with acetone for several minutes, if area is away from face or eye. The hair may be clipped to reduce the tension on skin. The surfaces should not be pulled apart, with direct opposing actions. Ocular: Eyelid/eyeball is thoroughly washed with warm water and Elizabethan Collar is applied to prevent self trauma. The animal will be able to open eyes on his own with no residual tissue damage within 2-3 days and hence forceful manipulation should not be done.
Products: Coffee, tea, chocolates, cola/soft drinks, asthma, analgesic and cold medications. Caffeine, oxicoses and theobromine are the primary toxic agents.
Symptoms: Clinical signs manifested by vomition, diarrhoea, polyuria, weakness, hyperexcitability, tremours, seizures, coma and death resulting from cardiac tachyarrhythmias.
Symptoms: Dirty brown coloured gums, dyspnoea (difficulty in respiration), haematuria (blood in urine), jaundice, facial and paw edema, cyanosis, hypothermia and vomiting. Less common signs include coma, generalised weakness and death.
Products: It is a sweetener used in sugar-free products/chewing gums.
Symptoms: It induces hypoglycaemia by stimulating insulin secretion, resulting in weakness, ataxia, seizures and collapse.
Poisoning occurs commonly from ingestion of a tick collar.
Symptoms: Clinical signs include ataxia (unable to walk), bradycardia (dull and depressed), CNS depression, vomition, diarrhoea, and seizures.
Caution: All the pet parents are requested to ensure that poisonous substances mentioned above should be used carefully in presence of pets. Kindly contact the nearest local veterinarian for assistance at the earliest as the condition of your pet could
be extremely critical.
*The best first aid during any of the above mentioned poisonous conditions for your pet is to give/use concentrated salt solution (more salt and less water to give orally to your pet) to induce vomition within two hours after ingestion of suspected poison.
(Dr Vijay Kumar M is assistant professor at Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, Veterinary College, Bidar).