Understanding Toxins & Their Dangers In Pet Care
By Outstanding Pet Care Learning Center
Quality pet care facilities set themselves apart from other untrained individuals as the superior pet care choice because our facilities are designed, and our staff is trained, to provide an exceptionally safe environment.
To maintain the healthiest environment for canine and feline guests, disinfectants and chemicals are used. There are potentially hundreds of toxins in our environment, including household chemicals, medications, plants, and pesticides. Unfortunately, the majority of poisoning cases are caused by human error such as carelessness and ignorance of proper procedures.
Quality pet care facilities are proactive by preventing these accidents from occurring. Poisoning occurs when a pet swallows, inhales, or absorbs a substance that causes structural damage or functional disturbance of the tissues of the body.
Proactive measures are always the best way to prevent a pet from coming in contact with a toxin. Taking the time to examine your facility and look for specific hazards can help prevent unfortunate and preventable emergencies. Are mop buckets left in areas where pets can get to contaminated water? Are there plants in areas that might cause a pet to get sick if ingested? Are chemicals being stored in areas where, if a leak occurred, a pet could come in contact?
There can be many indications and symptoms caused by a poison. It is important to train staff to identify symptoms and to provide specific guidelines so they know how to respond and call for veterinarian care if needed.
Symptoms Can Include Any or All of the Following:
- Lack of coordination/weakness
- Heavy salivation/vomiting
- Ulcers on face or paws
- Hemorrhage (bleeding)
Many products in the pet care facility environment are poisonous, from flea products to disinfectants, and even living plants. Part of the responsibility in the pet care facility is to use products correctly and recognize a potential hazard.
Gather Information: If you suspect a dog or cat is poisoned, get as much information as possible; the bottle and label or MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) of the suspect product, detailed observations about the pet, and any other pertinent information (for example, pet information).
Contact Information: Keep your veterinarian’s telephone number, national animal poison control numbers, and the local human poison control center’s number handy so they can be dialed quickly in an emergency. Human poison control centers rarely have specific information on pet poisonings, but they have databases of chemicals and active ingredients.
Two Excellent Pet Poison Control Resources:
- ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center
- Pet Poison Helpline
The condition of the pet should be assessed by a staff member trained in first aid. Note the pet’s attitude, heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, mucous membrane color, and pulse quality so you can properly report the pet’s condition to the veterinarian.
- Lubricate thermometer and insert into anus.
- Normal temperature is 100–102.5 for dogs and cats.
- Feel the heartbeat on the side of the chest below the elbow and count beats per minute.
- Normal rate is 60–100 for big dogs, 80–120 for medium/small dogs, 120–150 for cats.
- Watch the chest move and count breaths per minute.
- Normal rate is 20–30 for cats and dogs.
- Panting is normal for dogs when they are exercising or excited, but is never normal for cats.
Mucous Membrane Color:
- Look at a non–pigmented part of the gums.
- Normal color is pink.
Depending on the situation, your veterinarian may instruct you to decontaminate: Decontamination refers to removing the toxin from the body to minimize toxicity. The method will depend on how the pet was exposed to the toxin. In some occasions, your veterinarian may instruct you to induce vomiting and your veterinarian will instruct you how to do so.
Ocular exposure (eye contact from poison): A veterinarian may instruct you to rinse the eye(s) with tap water, distilled water, or saline for 20-30 minutes. Be prepared by having the proper supplies available so you can respond quickly if an emergency occurs.
Topical exposure (skin contact from poison): Wash the pet with warm water and mild detergent (Dawn dish soap). Staff should wear protective clothing and gloves to avoid exposing themselves.
- Remove any poisons near where pets play or stay.
- Save any vomit or samples of the substance for identification.
- Transport the pet to a veterinarian for evaluation as soon as possible.
- Perform CPR if you have been trained and if the pet has no pulse or is not breathing. If the pet has seizures, keep the pet safe and comfortable and transport to a vet.
For further information on dealing with toxins in a pet care facility, safe medication handling, how to detect signs of illness, and much more, sign up for a FREE class at OPCLearningCenter.com.