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You’ve probably dog-proofed your house…but have you thought about what’s in your purse? Today we received a very helpful press release from the Pet Poison Helpline about five common purse items that can be harmful and even deadly to dogs. I don’t have all these items in my purse but I do usually have hand sanitizers and an inhaler, both which can cause major problems. Please take just a moment to run through this list or watch the above video to see if you might have some of these dangers in your handbag. Also, during this busy holiday season, it’s very important to keep an eye on your guests’ purses, too, to make sure a curious dog doesn’t find his way into trouble!
Here’s a look at the top five most hazardous handbook contents:
Sugarless chewing gum and breath mints
Many women carry chewing gum in their purses and don’t realize that, if ingested by a dog, it can be fatal. Most sugarless gums, including some Trident™, Orbit™, and Ice Breaker™ brands, contain xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Some sugarless mints and flavored multi-vitamins may also be made with xylitol. When ingested, even small amounts of xylitol can result in a life-threatening and rapid drop in blood sugar, and if large amounts are ingested, dogs can suffer from severe liver failure. Signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, collapse, tremors and seizures.
Many purses contain pill bottles and dispensers. They are irresistible to some dogs, as they resemble toys that rattle. Each year, nearly half of the calls to Pet Poison Helpline concern ingestions of potentially toxic human medications. Common drugs including NSAIDs (e.g. Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin®), acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®) and antidepressants (e.g. Effexor®, Cymbalta®, Prozac®) can cause serious harm to dogs and cats when ingested. NSAIDs such as Advil can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure, especially in cats. A single Tylenol tablet containing acetaminophen can be fatal to a cat, and in dogs, a larger ingestion can lead to severe liver failure. Of all medications, antidepressants account for the highest number of calls to Pet Poison Helpline, and can cause neurological problems like sedation, incoordination, agitation, tremors and seizures.
Asthma inhalers (albuterol)
While asthma inhalers are often used in veterinary medicine for cats and dogs, when accidentally chewed and punctured by dogs, they can cause severe, life-threatening, acute poisoning. Because inhalers often contain concentrated doses (often 200 doses in one small vial) of beta-agonist drugs (e.g., albuterol) or steroids (e.g., fluticasone), dogs that chew into them are exposed to massive amounts of the drugs all at once. This can lead to severe poisoning, resulting in life-threatening heart arrhythmias, agitation, vomiting, collapse and death.
As few as three cigarettes can be fatal to a small dog, depending on the strength or “lightness” of the cigarettes. After ingestion, clinical signs of distress can become apparent in as little as 15 minutes. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and even gum (Nicorette®) contain nicotine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. Exposure causes high heart and respiratory rates, neurological overstimulation, uncontrolled urination/defecation, tremors, seizures, paralysis and death.
In recent years, hand sanitizer has become a common item in millions of handbags. Many hand sanitizers claim to kill almost 100 percent of germs, and this possible because they contain high amounts of alcohol (ethanol) – sometimes up to 95 percent. Therefore, when a dog ingests a small bottle of hand sanitizer, it can have the same effect as a shot of hard liquor. This can cause a severe drop in blood sugar, incoordination, a drop in body temperature, neurological depression, coma and death.
Whether you are the host or a guest at a holiday party, be sure that purses are placed in a safe location and out of the reach of pets. When in doubt, hang it up.
What To Do If Your Pet Has Ingested a Harmful Substance
If you think your pet may have ingested something harmful, take action immediately. Contact your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline at 1-800-213-6680. Pet Poison Helpline is the most cost-effective animal poison control center in North America charging only $35 per call, including unlimited follow-up consultations.
Pet Poison Helpline, an animal poison control center based out of Minneapolis, is available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary professionals that require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet. The staff provides treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals and exotic species.