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10 Most Common Causes of Dog Emergencies

The vets at Pet Poison Helpline share some important information for pet owners to avoid bringing your pet to doggie emergency and keep your pets safe!

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1. The Wrong Foods

Eating the wrong foods, especially chocolate, xylitol, and grapes/raisins, can cause a dog emergency. The chemical causing toxicity in chocolate is theobromine (a relative of caffeine). The darker, more bitter, and more concentrated the chocolate is, the more dangerous it is for your pup.  Keep an eye of for sugarless gums and candies, too, as they contain xylitol, a sweetener that is dangerous to dogs. When ingested, even in small amounts, it can result in a life-threatening drop in blood sugar or even liver failure. Raisins and grapes are often overlooked as one of the most toxic foods to dogs, and can result in kidney failure.

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2. Insecticides

Insecticide exposure can cause serious problems for dogs, including sprays, bait stations, and spot on flea/tick treatments. Ingestion of insecticides and pesticides, especially those that contain organophosphates (e.g., disulfoton, often found in rose-care products), can be life-threatening to dogs, even when ingested in small amounts. While spot-on flea and tick treatments work well for dogs, they can be very toxic to cats when not applied appropriately. Cat owners should read labels carefully, as those that contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids (a derivative of the Chrysanthemum flower), are severely toxic if directly applied or ingested.

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3. Mouse and Rat Poisons

There are many types of chemicals in mouse and rat poisons, all with different active ingredients and types of action, making all of them potentially poisonous to dogs. Depending on what type was ingested, poisoning can result in internal bleeding, brain swelling, kidney failure, or even severe vomiting and bloat. Mouse and rat poisons also pose the potential for relay toxicity, meaning pets  – and even wildlife – can be poisoned by eating dead rodents poisoned by rodenticides.

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4. Pain Killers

Common drugs including NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Advil®, Aleve® and Motrin, can cause serious harm to dogs when ingested, causing stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as potential kidney failure. The use of human pain killers in dogs is dangerous and should never be given without consulting a veterinarian.

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5. Household Cleaners

Strong acidic or alkaline cleaners pose the highest risk due to their corrosive nature, and include common household products such as toilet bowel cleaners, drain cleaners, rust removers, and calcium/lime removers. Remember that “natural” does not necessarily mean safe, as some natural products can cause severe reactions. While general cleaners like glass products, spot removers and most surface cleaners have a wide margin of safety, it is still wise to keep them out of reach.

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6. Human Antidepressants

Of all prescription medications, antidepressants account for the highest number of calls to Pet Poison Helpline. When ingested, they can cause neurological problems in dogs like sedation, incoordination, agitation, tremors and seizures

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7. Fertilizers

While some fertilizers are fairly safe, certain organic products that contain blood meal, bone meal, feather meal and iron may be especially tasty -and dangerous – to dogs. Large ingestions can cause severe pancreatitis or even form a concretion in the stomach, obstructing the gastrointestinal tract.

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8. Acetaminophen

Sizeable ingestions of acetaminophen (i.e. Tylenol) can lead to severe liver failure and even dry eye in dogs. However, it should be noted that it is a more significant threat to cats, as a single Tylenol tablet can be fatal.

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9. Amphetamines

Medications used to treat ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) contain potent stimulants, such as amphetamines and methylphenidate. Even minimal ingestions by dogs can cause life-threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperatures and heart problems.

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10. Veterinary Pain Relievers

Specifically COX-2 inhibitors like Rimadyl, Dermaxx and Previcox. Carprofen, more commonly known by its trade name Rimadyl, is a veterinary-specific, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. While it is commonly used for osteoarthritis, inflammation, and pain control in dogs, if over-ingested in large amounts, it can result in severe gastric ulceration and acute kidney failure in dogs.