Alerts & Product Recalls

Common and Not-So-Common Valentine’s Day Toxicities

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While chocolate and flowers are traditionally considered romantic Valentine’s Day traditions, pets who nibble on their owner’s gifts definitely won’t be feeling the love.

The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center has gathered a list of common and not-so-common Valentine’s Day toxicities to help you provide the best possible care to your patients.

Chocolate

Get ready for the next wave of chocolate cases, since Valentine’s Day is a biggie!

Often chocolates contain additional fillings which increase the risk of pancreatitis but may limit the amount of actual chocolate ingested. While not common, keep an eye out for raisins and xylitol in chocolate.

Flowers

Roses are certainly the iconic flower of Valentine’s day, but mixed bouquets are also common. Unfortunately, lilies that can cause acute kidney injury in cats (Lillium sp. or Hemorcallis sp.) are commonly used in mixed bouquets.

Don’t trust the affected pet’s owner to identify flowers in the bouquet—instead, request a picture or have the owner call the store/company where the flowers were purchased and get a list of what was in the bouquet.

And if you’re not good at identifying flowers, there are many apps and websites with pictures of common flowers used in bouquets.

Marijuana

With the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in many states, marijuana exposure in animals is on the rise.

Marijuana is also found in products that pets may be more interested in: chocolates, baked goods or even lotions are becoming common.

Onion & Garlic

A rich, romantic meal for two sounds like the perfect idea for Valentine’s Day, at least until a pet jumps on the counter and starts eating the diced onion.

While one bite may not be a problem, in cats 5 g/kg or more and in dogs 15 g/kg or more of onions has resultant in clinically significant hematologic changes.

Alcohol

What goes better with a good meal than a glass of wine? Problems can occur, however, when a glass is left accessible and the pet laps it up.

While the grapes in wine have not proven to be an issue for dogs, the alcohol certainly could cause problems for them.

Gum

Gum containing xylitol may be a good bad-breath cure, but it’s also one of the most common sources of xylitol toxicity for dogs.

To add to the confusion, the amount of xylitol in different brands of gum can vary widely—and it’s found in many other products as well.

Perfume

No one wants to smell bad for the big date, but when the little Chihuahua licks her owner’s skin after a recent application, is there reason for concern?

Perfumes are primarily composed of essential oils and alcohols which in small amounts may cause the pet to wonder what it was they just tasted, but not likely much more.

Personal lubricant

It goes without saying that some dogs will eat anything. While most of the time lubricants only pose a risk for gastrointestinal upset particularly diarrhea, there are a few products with xylitol, so always doublecheck the label.


ASPCA Animal Poison Control

Trending Now: Are Essential Oils Dangerous to Pets?

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Essential oils have long been used for maladies such as nasal congestion, anxiety, sore muscles and more. And with the popularity of oil diffusers—an easy way to release oils into the air—there is more alarm about how oils may affect animals.

Here’s what you need to know, straight from the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, to give your clients the straight scoop and debunk any misinformation.

Q: What are essential oils and how are they often used?

Essential oils are the natural aromatic compounds that give plants their individual scents. The oils are extracted from plants and distilled, and their potential uses and touted health benefits are wide-ranging.

They can be used to make your house smell better, repel mosquitos, improve sleep, boost moods or even help alleviate nausea. For pets, they are most commonly used for repelling fleas and helping with separation anxiety.

Due to their hydrophobic nature, essential oils are absorbed well both through mucous membranes and the skin. There are either excreted unchanged or may be metabolized by the liver prior to excretion.  

Q: Are essential oils toxic?

The answer, as we so often see, is slightly more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” since there are various factors that come into play.

First, there is variability with the toxicities of different oil types. Second, the oils can be found in a wide range of concentrations.

Products containing essential oils—such as fragrances, shampoos and medicinal products—often contain from 1-20% essential oils. However, there has been an increase in popularity of more concentrated essential oils, some going as high as 100%.

An important third factor is species sensitivity. For example:

· Cats may be more sensitive with dermal exposure due to their increased risk of oral exposure from grooming

· The same concerns apply to pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters

· Birds are more likely to suffer respiratory affects than other animals to a diffuser due to their specialized respiratory system

Of course, animals with underlying health issues may also be at higher risk if they are unable to metabolize the oil, have respiratory disorders, or have broken skin which can allow increased absorption of dermally applied essential oils. 

Q: What symptoms should you look for? 

The most common clinical signs with dermal exposure seen by APCC include ataxia, muscle weakness, depression and behavior changes. In severe cases, hypothermia and collapse may occur. With oral exposure, vomiting, diarrhea, and central nervous system depression can be seen.

In severe cases, seizures and rarely liver injury has been reported with pennyroyal and melaleuca oils. If inhaled, aspiration pneumonia may occur. 

Q: What advice should I give clients?

· It is best not to give or apply highly concentrated oils to pets

· If a pet has an underlying health problem, particularly a respiratory issue, it may be best to avoid use of essential oil diffusers in the household

· Do not use essential oil diffuser in the house if there are birds present

· If using a diffuser or warmer make sure they are out of reach of pets and that pets can leave the area if the smell is getting too strong for them

· Don’t keep a diffuser in the same room (or use a strong concentration) for animals who groom themselves

ASPCA ANIMAL POISON CONTROL