Tue | Jul 23, 2024

Expert tips on reducing the risk of pet poisoning

Published:Saturday | June 15, 2024 | 12:08 AMJada Powell/ Gleaner Writer -
Onions, grapes, raisins, and chocolates are toxic to dogs and cats.
Onions, grapes, raisins, and chocolates are toxic to dogs and cats.
Signs of poisoning for dogs can range from GI signs to neurological signs or both.
Signs of poisoning for dogs can range from GI signs to neurological signs or both.
 Dr Briana Schwapp says every pet owner should know what their animals can and can’t eat.
Dr Briana Schwapp says every pet owner should know what their animals can and can’t eat.
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Ensuring our furry friends stay healthy and safe ought to be a top priority for pet owners. Unfortunately, pet poisoning is a common, but luckily, preventable issue. Dr Briana Schwapp, a veterinarian with a passion for animal welfare, shares her expert advice on how to keep pets safe from harmful substances.

In an interview with Saturday Living Schwapp said, "Pets are naturally curious, and they often get into things they shouldn't. By being aware of common hazards and taking simple precautions, we can prevent many cases of pet poisoning".

Today, Dr Schwapp answers some of the most frequently asked questions about pet poisoning, providing practical tips that every pet owner should know to ensure their pets' safety.

What are the signs of poisoning for dogs?

They can really vary depending on the type of poisoning we’re talking about. Generally speaking, they can range from GI signs to neurological signs or both­–so vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, excessive drooling, lethargy, bleeding from the gums or from any orifice is common with rat poison. Difficulty breathing (laboured breathing) is another common sign of poisons seen here in Jamaica.

What are the most common poisoning cases that have come in?

Toad poisoning is probably our most common poisoning case, where dogs or cats become poisoned when they bite or lick cane toads. Rat poison is a close second, unfortunately followed by gramoxone poisoning which is the worst one we see. The last type of poison we see is when animals consume products or food that are toxic to them, which can be anything from batteries to onions.

What can pet owners do to avoid poisoning?

We must, must, must keep our animals on our own property. Most of my fatal poisoning cases, and every fatal case I have had in the past six months, have been due to dogs and cats being allowed to roam out of the yard that they live in. Keep your animals at your home and do not allow them to leave. Be sure to only set rat poison in bait stations, as even places that we think animals can’t get them – dogs can get it – and sometimes rodents move it. Lastly, ensure that you understand what is toxic to animals and what isn’t. Every pet owner should know what their animals can and can’t eat, for example, onions, grapes, raisins, and chocolates are toxic to dogs and cats.

What should pet owners do if they suspect their pets have been poisoned?

The first thing they need to do is get on the phone with a vet while trying to figure out what type of poison it was, as the steps taken at home will vary depending on that. Not every case can be helped in a home setting and most have to come in to see us. Also, always have a list of vet and emergency lines on hand so that you aren’t wasting time to find numbers or end up calling someone moonlighting as a vet, which often results in pet death. If you can’t get a doctor, you can use reliable sources such as the American Poison control website to establish what your first aid steps should be. Like I said not every case can be helped at home so get to a clinic as soon as you can.

PREVENTION IS SAFER AND CHEAPER

It’s very easy to be a responsible owner and to be aware of the things that can hurt our pets. Prevention is safer and cheaper than cure. Dr Schwapp is advising pet owners to stay informed and proactive in protecting their pets. With four years of experience in veterinary medicine, she is known for her compassionate approach to care and her advocacy for responsible pet ownership. She graduated from The University of the West Indies School of Veterinary Medicine in St Augustine in 2020 during the pandemic and sees both horses and companion animals.

She's also been riding horses since she was four years old and has competed internationally for Jamaica in Germany, Cayman, Ecuador, and Colombia throughout her high school and college years.

By pet-proofing your house and yard, and staying vigilant, you can reduce the chances of accidental poisoning and ensure a happy, healthy life for your furry companions.

lifestyle@gleanerjm.com