Patch Pets: Pet Truths and Myths

Veterinarians are frequently asked about the safety of household items, holiday treats and more. Test your pet IQ on these pet truth and myths.

Editor's note: This week, Dr. Richard Silverstein from Heritage Animal Hospital in Maple Grove talks about which pet "facts" are true and which are just plain myths.

Here is the really skinny on some frequently asked questions. Test you pet IQ with these truths or myths.
Raisins and grapes are toxic to pets. Truth! Raisins and grapes are indeed toxic in some dogs. The exact cause is unknown, but dogs that are sensitive can have dangerous reactions that initially cause gastrointestinal upset followed by acute renal failure (ARF). Because it is unknown which dogs may be sensitive, any grape or raisin ingestion should be considered an emergency. Vomiting, the first symptom can occur in as little as two hours. Other symptoms of ARF may present within six hours or as late as 24 hours after ingestion.

Chocolate is toxic to pets. Truth! Chocolate toxicity is a result of theobromine contained in chocolate. Amounts of chocolate vary in different forms: milk chocolate 44 mg/oz, semisweet/bittersweet 150 mg/oz, baking chocolate 390 mg/oz., dark chocolate 100 mg/oz. and white chocolate only 0.25 mg/oz. Mild gastrointestinal signs occur at lower doses, but toxicity can occur at 18mg/lb. Too much math? One ounce of baking chocolate can be toxic to a 20 pound dog. Eight ounces of milk chocolate is needed to cause illness in the same 20 pound dog. For a good review and toxicity chart, go to www.veterinarypartner.com and search "chocolate toxicity"

One stick of sugarless gum can kill a dog? Scary truth! Xylitol used in some sugarless gums and candies can cause life threatening toxicities at very low doses. Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can occur at 0.1g/kg. Severe liver toxicity at 0.5-1g/kg. Most gums contain between 0.3-0.4mg/piece.Some contain 1.2 mg/piece. A 10 pound dog could be poisoned by as little as half a stick of gum. Check your gum for xylitol before the package is chewed to pieces. Better yet, keep sugarless gum in out of the house or in secure places.

Poinsettia plants are toxic to dogs and cats. Truth AND Myth! Euphorbia pulcherrima, the poinsettia plant, is a mild toxicity to dogs and cats. The sap is an irritant to the mouth or stomach and sometimes causes vomiting. According to American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), it is an over-rated in toxicity. We have bred beauty into this plant and the toxicity out.  

Swiffer Dusters are dangerous? Myth! An urban legend! Swiffer Dusters are safe for pets. All sponges and cleaning pads pose potential choking hazards, but according to the ASPCA toxicology experts, ingredients in Swiffer Dusters are safe for pets.

A warm nose is a sign your dog is healthy. Myth. Dogs make subtle adjustments to their body temperature, not by sweating, but through their nose and mouth. A cool nose may mean they were just resting in a cool place or just drank some water. A warm nose may come from exercise or being outside on a warm day. A dog's normal temperature is 100-101.5, which may feel slightly warm when touched on the head. A better approach to monitoring health is to look for signs of illness including lack of appetite, lethargy, inactivity, lameness, and lack of social interaction to name a few.  Want to know if you pet has a fever? Check a temperature rectally with a digital thermometer.  The author then suggests labeling this thermometer "for pet use only."  Eww.

The preceding content provided by Dr. Richard Silverstein was for general informational purposes only.

The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Consult your pet’s veterinarian for medical advice, diagnosis and/or treatment.. The opinions expressed are those of Dr. Richard Silverstein.


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