It’s the season for lilies, tulips and other welcome spring bulbs. But what’s attractive to you might be deadly for your cat. Double Arrow veterinarian Dr. Liz Neveau spelled out a variety of seasonal and other potential poisons for both dogs and cats in a talk at the Wallowa County Humane Society Thursday evening.
“Flowers from the lily family are very toxic to cats,” Neveau said. “That includes day lilies, tiger lilies, Easter lilies and other bulb flowers like daffodils, tulips and iris. I just don’t have any of those flowers in my garden.” Although cats are not very likely to nibble on your favorite bloom, even a small taste can create a problem. “Just a bite or two of a petal or a leaf can cause kidney failure within 72 hours,” she said. “Other plants with potentially lethal consequences for cats include elderberry, lupine, milkweeds, hyacinth, and delphinium.” Symptoms include drooling, diarrhea, vomiting, and lethargy.
Some spring bulbs and plants are toxic to both dogs and cats. They include iris, dogbane, milkweed, and foxglove.
The three greatest perils for pets in Wallowa County seem to be consuming really bad bacteria from a rotting carcass, eating chocolate, and ingesting rodenticides either from the container or from sick or dead rodents. “In the spring, the wild animals that perished during the winter become exposed, and dogs, especially, are apt to find them and consider them a real treat,” Neveau said. “But the same bacteria that can make us sick will make our dogs sick, too.”
Chocolate can be lethal to dogs. Dark chocolate and baker’s chocolate are the worst. “What might not cause much of a problem in a big dog can kill a small dog,” Neveau said. “Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal distension, and restlessness. If you suspect chocolate poisoning—or any poisoning--make sure your bring in the package or label—or what’s left of it.”
As rodents become more active in the spring, there’s also a greater chance of poisoning by rodenticides that are put out in baits and traps. “We can treat dogs and cats for the older generations of those poisons,” Neveau said. “But there is a new generation of rodenticide, containing bromethalin, a neurotoxin, that has no antidote and no treatment. You wonder what the manufactures were thinking when they released that new product.”
There are, of course, a host of other toxins that your dogs or cats. Some, like household cleaners and bleach, are pretty obvious. But others include Cannabis, which can cause a dog to stop stop breathing. Just one pill of Tylenol can kill a cat. Only a sip or two of antifreeze can kill a dog. Items like chewing gum and other artificially sweeten foods that contain xylitol, which is lethal to dogs and even unbaked bread dough. Neveau related the tale of a Labrador retriever who had helped himself to a case of frozen, unbaked rolls. The warmth of the dog’s stomach activated the yeast, and abdomen swelled to huge proportions, also producing ethanol, which is a poison for dogs. “We were able to save him,” she said. But it was close.”
For a more complete list of pet toxins and remedies, Neveau recommended the website of Veterinary Partners: veterinarypartner.com. If you think you have a problem, you can call the pet poison helpline: 855-764-7661. Or, better yet, call your local veterinarian.