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5 Toxins to Watch Out For This Fall

5 Toxins to Watch Out For This Fall



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As autumn approaches, so do new potential dangers that pose a threat to your dog and cat. Here are the top 5 fall toxins to be on the lookout for as summer ends. Keep your pet safe by keeping these out of reach!

1. Rodenticides
As the weather gets colder, mice and rats start seeking shelter in warm locations, in other words, your house! Unfortunately, the start of autumn means the start of mouse and rat poisoning. There are several types of active ingredients in these mouse and rat poisons, and they all work (and kill) in different ways. Depending on what type of mouse and rat poison was ingested, clinical signs include:

  • Weakness
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing blood
  • Dehydration
  • Inappetance
  • Profuse vomiting
  • A distended stomach
  • Tremors
  • Seizures
  • Kidney failure
  • Even death

I’m never an advocate of using these types of poisons, as they pose a threat to wildlife, pets, and birds of prey (e.g., raptors like red-tail hawks, owls, etc.). I’d rather you use the more humane snap trap–much safer to you and your pet! Learn more about rat poison here.

2. Chocolate

Did someone mention Halloween? The last week of October poses a big danger to dogs, as there’s a greater likelihood that your dog will find the candy stash. While one or two small Snickers® bars aren’t usually dangerous, significant ingestions (e.g., your whole candy bowl) can result in chocolate poisoning in dogs. [To be on the safe side I don’t recommend feeding chocolate of any kind to your pet].

The toxic ingredient: methylxanthines (called theobromine) and caffeine. With mild poisoning, clinical signs of chocolate poisoning include:

  • Agitation
  • Panting
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

With more significant ingestions, clinical signs of cardiac effects (including a racing heart rate, high blood pressure, and abnormal heart rhythm) or pancreatitis (i.e., inflammation of the pancreas) may be seen. With severe poisonings, chocolate can result in tremors, seizures, and, rarely, death. Keep in mind that with chocolate, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more dangerous it is! Semi-sweet chocolate or Baker’s Chocolate contains very toxic amounts of theobromine as compared to milk chocolate or white chocolate. Learn more about Halloween candy basket dangers here.

3. Compost/Mulch piles

I’m all for going green, and am a huge advocate of recycling and composting. However, before you start composting, make sure you have a well secured, fenced off compost pile. If wildlife or your dog ingests the compost directly, it can result in severe poisoning secondary to the mold (containing tremorgenic mycotoxins). Clinical signs of compost poisoning include:

  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Inappetance
  • Panting
  • Agitation
  • Incoordination
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

4. Mushrooms

While the majority of mushrooms are benign and only result in minor symptoms when ingested, there are a few types that can be deadly (even to humans!) when ingested. Because mushroom identification is so difficult, we veterinarians have to err on the side of caution and assume any mushroom ingested by a pet is toxic.

The most dangerous type? The Amanita mushroom.

Depending on the type of mushroom ingested, clinical signs include:

  • Gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain)
  • Neurologic signs (e.g., walking drunk, tremoring, agitation, seizures)
  • Organ damage (e.g., liver or kidney failure)
  • Even death

5. Mothballs

As mice and rats come into the house to stay warm, so do moths! Mothballs may look benign, but can be quite dangerous as they typically contain chemicals such as paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene. The classic smell of mothballs is typically due to “old-fashioned" mothballs that contain naphthalene, and these are generally much more toxic than the paradichlorobenzene-containing ones. Clinical signs from mothball poisoning in dogs and cats include:

  • Gastrointestinal signs (e.g., drooling, vomiting, abdominal pain)
  • Neurologic signs (e.g., lethargy, tremors, etc.)
  • Blood changes (e.g., abnormalities in the red blood cells)
  • And rarely, even organ failure

When in doubt, if you think your pet was poisoned, call your veterinarian, emergency veterinarian, or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for life-saving care.

Next, learn about the popular peanut butter ingredient that could harm your dog.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Reviewed on:

Wednesday, August 22, 2018


Autumn Safety Tips

There’s nothing like the crisp, cool air and luscious foliage to get you excited for the changing seasons. Your pet, too, is probably welcoming a break from summer's hot, sticky weather. But fall is also a time of lurking dangers for our furry friends. From household poisons to cold weather hazards, there are important safety issues to consider.

Below are some tips to keep your pet happy and healthy during the autumn months.

Be Cautious of Rodenticides and Cold Weather Poisons
The use of rat and mouse poisons increase in the fall as rodents seek shelter from the cooler temperatures by attempting to move indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets and, if ingested, the results could be fatal. If you must use these products, please do so with extreme caution and put them in places inaccessible to your pets.

Many people choose fall as the time to change their car's engine coolant. Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic, so spills should be cleaned up immediately. Consider switching to propylene glycol-based coolants—though they aren't completely nontoxic, they are much less toxic than other engine coolants.

Keep School Supplies Out of Paws’ Reach
Fall is back-to-school time, and those of you with young children know that means stocking up on items like glue sticks, pencils and magic markers. Although these items are considered low toxicity to pets, gastrointestinal upset and blockages can occur if ingested. Be sure your children keep their school supplies out of your pet’s reach.

Steer Clear of Mushrooms
Fall and spring are mushroom seasons. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Since most toxic mushrooms are difficult to distinguish from nontoxic ones, the best way to prevent pets from ingesting these poisonous plants is to keep them away from areas where any mushrooms are growing. Please visit our Poisonous Plants page for more information. Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately if you witness your pet eating a wild mushroom.

Watch Out for Wildlife
Autumn is the season when snakes are preparing for hibernation, increasing the possibility of bites to those unlucky pets who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pet parents should know what kinds of venomous snakes may be lurking in their environment—and where those snakes are most likely to be found—so pets can be kept out of those areas.


During your preflight, it's easy to get distracted by numb fingers, rush, and miss something. Invest in some quality gloves to keep your hands warm while preflighting your plane. It's simple, but often overlooked.

In a cold environment, aircraft batteries have diminished performance - a result of the chemistry make up of lead acid used in general aviation. Chilly temperatures slow the reactions inside your plane's batteries, causing excess discharge while it sits on the ramp. This means you could be walking out to a dead battery, or a battery lacking the charge to start the engine.

To lower your chances of being stuck out in the cold with a dead battery, check your battery's charge in your preflight, and if possible, keep your plane in a heated hanger the night before your flight.

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Sidewalk de-icers generally contain Chloride salts, calcium carbonate or magnesium acetate. If ingested in large quantities these calcium salts can cause gastrointestinal upset, potentially serious enough to warrant veterinary care. More commonly, problems are seen if the product is allowed to stay on the skin, as they can be severe skin irritants. The best option is avoidance. If your pet does come in contact with de-icers, rinse the paws with warm water and don’t allow licking.

Our pets are wonderful in the fact they never complain, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t uncomfortable in cold weather! Pets left in the cold can absolutely suffer from hypothermia, frostbite, and other potentially serious problems resulting from cold exposure. Be smart and limit exposure to the cold. If your pets are primarily outdoors, provide a heated shelter where they can get warm and escape the elements. When walking, be mindful of the cold on their feet. If tolerated, booties can help prevent ice exposure related injuries.


Watch the video: A Student Ate 5 Day Old Pasta For Lunch. This Is How His Liver Shut Down.