August 25, 2023

Keeping our pets safe in the home

There’s been some media attention lately around salt lamps and the harm they can do to your pet. Cats and dogs are known to like salty things and sodium poisoning can cause plenty of unwanted outcomes. In extreme cases it can be life threatening, as explained in this recent NZ Herald article.

The salt lamp news stories got some of the team here at Tauranga Vets talking and yes, salt lamps do pose a risk to our pets, however we could all think of many more common household hazards that could land your pet at the vets!

Dr Kate Heller

We talked to vet Dr Kate Heller about the most common household hazards that could harm your pets.

“One of the most common hazards at this time of the year is rat bait poisoning,” says Kate. “As the weather gets colder and people start using bait stations, we need to be extra vigilant with our animals,” she adds.

She says if you are setting up a trap; make sure the bait is not accessible to cats and dogs. It is also important to note a pet can also be poisoned if they have ingested a rodent that has itself already eaten rat poison.

“A big issue with rat poison is that if your pet does ingest it, symptoms will not start showing straight away, it is usually 4-5 days later” says Kate. You may find you pet will appear to be lethargic, have bleeding gums or nose, bruises, coughing or  have blood in his or her stools or urine, but it can present in many different ways” she adds.

Rat bait acts as an anticoagulant (prevents the blood from clotting) by depleting the body’s supply of clotting factors. Vitamin K is the antidote or treatment used in cases of poisoning.

Kate says if you see or suspect your animal has ingested rat poison, call the clinic as soon as possible as with prompt and effective treatment the prognosis is good. Treatment will depend on the severity of the toxicity and timing of ingestion.

Another common household hazard is Antifreeze. Similar to salt lamps, Antifreeze tastes sweet, so our pets may have a tendency to lick it.

Dogs and cats usually come into contact with Antifreeze when it leaks from a car’s engine onto the ground, when it is spilled onto the ground while being added to a car’s engine, or when the container is left uncapped. Even small amounts can be fatally toxic to the body’s organs, including the brain, kidneys and liver.

It is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract very quickly. One of the break down products of ethylene glycol readily binds to tissues inside the kidneys, resulting in kidney failure. Cats, due to the way they metabolise ethylene glycol, are the most at risk from the toxic effects, however it is considered a very toxic substance for all pets.

Signs your animal may have ingested Antifreeze include vomiting, nausea, difficulty walking, seizures, fast heart rates and breathing and signs of fluid retention. These depend on how much was ingested.

Again, our advice is if you suspect your animals have ingested Antifreeze, come in and see us immediately.

The best advice we can give you is to make sure anything toxic to our pets is kept well away out of their reach.

If you have any questions or would like to make an appointment with Dr Kate Heller, call us on 0800 8387267.