We picked up the following information in an ASPCA brochure at our vet's office when we went to collect the body of 10-month old "Payday," one of our all-time favorite dachshunds, who succumbed May 28, 2008 to internal damage from a rough piece of crushed rock that measured less than an inch in diameter, which he had swallowed. Dogs are like small children who will put just about anything in their mouths, all too often with tragic consequences. We hope we can help you avoid the same kind of tragedy we've experienced - not even the vet could save him, despite emergency surgery and what we felt were heroic efforts on her and her staff's part.

(Edited to cover the "important stuff," we're not including their advertising for ASPCA Pet Health Insurance - you can contact the ASPCA for more information on that, at www.aspcapetinsurance.com or by calling 1-866-861-9092.)

Our own notes are in italics, where we felt it necessary to add to the brochure's information.

We can also add our own hazards, such things as the grains we feed to our livestock, especially "sweet mix," comprised of rolled corn, oats and molasses. Many people will happily allow their dogs a "treat" handful of such grain, thinking it couldn't possibly hurt their dog, but we've known dogs who got too much of the good thing, it swelled up inside their stomach and burst the stomach, killing the dog. We country folk also use a lot of mouse and rat killers, such as D-Con and Bar-Bait, which are grain-based and flavored to attract rodents, but also will attract our pets. From personal experience, trying to place such stuff where the dogs couldn't get to it - and miniature dachshunds can almost ALWAYS get to it - we've found that the ingenious rodents many times won't eat it themselves, but will carry it around and leave it expressly where the dogs CAN find it! Strategically placed traps are much safer! By the time you've discovered that your dog has eaten a mess of poison - and figured out WHAT it ate, it's usually too late to save its life.

Here's the ASPCA brochure:


Make your home a safer place for your pets by keeping them away from the following hazardous household items, plants, foods, objects, and trouble areas. [NOTE: This is by no means a comprehensive list, which would include far more than just 101 hazards, but is intended to start you thinking about all the different things a pet (or a small child, for that matter) could ingest that would or could be harmful or fatal - basically, if you wouldn't let your toddler have it, don't let your pet have it!]

If you think your pet has been exposed to a poisonous substance, the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center can help. Call 1-888-426-4435 (any time, 24/7), and consult with your veterinarian for follow-up care. It may save your pet's life. For more poison prevention information, visit www.aspca.org.

Household Items

1. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory                                    13. Lighter fluid
    medications (ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.)                            14. Mothballs
2. Acetaminophen [deadly to dogs]                                   15. Anti-cancer drugs
3. Cold and flu medications                                               16. Solvents (paint thinners, etc.)
4. Antidepressants                                                             17. Flea and tick products
5. Vitamins                                                                         18. Drain cleaners
6. Home insect products                                                    19. Liquid potpourri
7. Rat and mouse bait                                                        20. Slug and snail bait
8. Bleach                                                                            21. Oven cleaner sprays
9. Diet pills                                                                          22. Lime/scale remover
10. Disinfectants                                                                 23. Fly bait
11. Fabric softener                                                              24. Detergents
12. Lead                                                                              25. Tobacco products

Common Plants
[Note: this list contains common names, many of which have been applied to several unrelated plants - not the Latin species name for each plant. The same plant may be called by different names in different areas, or by different people, and many different plants are called by the same name, causing great confusion. The best rule of thumb is to keep pets and plants away from each other, or to spray the plants with bitter-apple spray or cayenne spray to make them less appealing to chewing pets - including dogs, cats and rodents. Remember, bored pets left to themselves can be terribly inventive in finding ways to reach things!]

Aloe                                           Dieffenbachia                                          Marble Queen Pothos
Amaryllis                                    Dumbcane                                              Morning Glory
Andromeda Japonica                 Easter Lily (all lilies are deadly)              Mother-in-law's Tongue
Asian Lily                                   Elephant Ears (Caladium)                       Mountain Laurel
Asparagus Fern                         Emerald Fern                                          Narcissus
Australian Nut                            English Ivy                                               Needlepoint Ivy
Autumn Crocus                          Eucalyptus                                              Nephthytis
Azalea (DEADLY)                      Ferns                                                       Nightshade (DEADLY)
Belladonna                                Fiddle-leaf Philodendron                         Oleander (DEADLY)
Bird of Paradise                        Gold Dust Dracaena                                 Panda Plant (Kalanchoe species)
Bittersweet (American and        Florida Beauty                                          Peace Lily (Anthurium)
European)                                 Foxglove                                                   Philodendron
Black Locust [seeds, pods]       Glacier Ivy                                                 Poison Hemlock (DEADLY)
Branching Ivy                            Gladiolus                                                   Precatory Bean (rosary pea DEADLY)
Buckeye, Horse Chestnuts        Golden Pothos                                          Privet
Buddhist Pine                             Heavenly Bamboo                                   Red Emerald Philodendron
Caladium                                    Honeysuckle                                            Rhododendron (DEADLY)
Calla Lily                                     Hurricane/Rain Lily (Zephyranthes)         Ribbon Plant
Castor Bean (DEADLY)              Hyacinth                                                   Sago Palm
Ceriman                                      Hydrangea                                               Satin Pothos
Clematis                                      Iris                                                            Schefflera (umbrella tree)
Cordatum (heart-leaf                  Jerusalem Cherry                                    Striped Dracaena
philodendron)                             Jimson Weed (DEADLY)                          Sweetheart Ivy
Corn Plant (an ornamental)        Kalanchoe                                                Tulip
Cycads                                       Lantana                                                    Water Hemlock (DEADLY)
Cyclamen                                   Lilies (all Lilium species) (DEADLY)          Wisteria
Daffodil                                       Lily of the Valley                                       Yew
Daylily                                         Lupine                                                      Yucca
Devil's Ivy (all Pothos)

Hazards in the Home

You should never let your dogs or cats eat any of these foods. Be sure to store them where your pets can't find them. [Many can cause liver or kidney damage over a period of time. Some kill almost instantly.]

Harmful Foods

27. Avocado                                             35. Alcoholic beverages [No, it isn't cute to get animals drunk!]
28. Chocolate (all forms)                          36. Moldy/spoiled foods - if you wouldn't eat it, don't feed it to your pets!
29. Coffee (all forms)                                37. Salt
30. Onions & onion powder                      38. Fatty foods
31. Garlic    NOT! See note below           39. "Sugar-free" gum, candies, ANYTHING sweetened with xylitol (DEADLY)
32. Grapes                                               
40. Tea leaves
33. Raisins                                               
41. Raw yeast dough
34. Macadamia nuts                                 42. Nutmeg    


42. Balls (specifically balls that are               51. Nylon stockings & pantyhose*
      small or have a smooth outer coating)    52. Paper clips, push pins & other office supplies
43. Batteries                                                  53. Plastic wrap & plastic bags
44. Wire twist-ties                                          54. Socks*
45. Buttons                                                    55. Rubber-bands
46. Coins                                                       56. Sharp objects (knives, razors, scissors, nails,
47. Cotton swabs                                                 needles, etc.)
48. Glass                                                       57. String, yarn, dental floss, Christmas-tree tinsel*
49. Hair pins                                                  58. Towels and blankets* (can fray dangerously)
50. Jewelry                                                    59. Wax (candles, crayons, etc.)

[* We've seen animals who swallowed small pieces of string or thread, which tangled in the intestines and strangulated the intestine, killing the animal. We never use towels or woven blankets as bedding, for that reason. All our blankets are non-woven. Watch the rope chew-toys you give your dogs, too! When they start looking frayed, throw them away! It's not worth your dog's life. And please, don't leave your dog unattended for hours on end, day after day, in a pen with wood, sticks, or small crushed rock in it - but it doesn't even have to be that long - they can pick up such things even on a walk! Dogs get curious or bored and start mouthing or chewing all sorts of things. We had previously used small, rounded river-rock in our pens, hauled from 20 miles away, but in 2007 we obtained closer, less expensive crushed rock - and had to deal with at least two dogs who ate one. We lost our precious Payday, but after another expensive rock-removal operation, we saved a pregnant female.]

Trouble Areas

60. Balconies & stairs - Tall balconies without safety railings, or railings spaced too far apart, can lead to a dangerous or fatal fall. [One of our 2007 clients lost their brand-new puppy off a balcony just a few days after buying it. The puppy died on impact with the tiled floor below.]
61. Bath tubs or sinks - Small pets can drown in full bathtubs or sinks.
62. Doors and windows - Dogs and cats can run away if they find an open door or window. They can also get seriously injured if they run across a busy road. Windows should have screens to prevent cats or other pets from falling out.
63. Electrical cords - Your pets can be electrocuted if they bite or chew on electrical cords that are plugged in.
64. Fireplace - Your pets can be burned by the flames or get sick if they eat the ashes.
65. Toilets - Toilet water is not healthy for pets to drink; always remember to close the lid. Make sure you leave plenty of clean, fresh water for your pets if you must leave them home alone. [Toilets are also a potential drowning hazard for small animals that jump up and fall in head-first, then can't turn around to get out.]
66. Washer and dryer - Your pets can crawl into a washer or dryer without your knowledge; close the doors to these appliances when you're not using them.
** Trash cans - Pets love to get into the trash, where they can find all sorts of nasty and dangerous discards! Keep such things only in covered cans your pet cannot get into, and keep small trash cans emptied frequently, and placed where the pet can't reach them.

Outside the Home

67. Algae* - can be found in ponds or other bodies of water; certain forms can be toxic.
68. Antifreeze/Coolant* - some types of antifreeze or coolant products contain ethylene glycol, which is highly toxic to dogs and cats, even in small amounts.
69. Fire pit/Grill - flames can result in serious burns and ashes can cause illness if ingested.
70. Fences or gates - your pets can run away if they find openings in damaged fences or gates, or if they dig under one - check your fences frequently. They can also get hurt or strangled if they get stuck. [We have seen a small dog sandwiched in a tight space between two chain-link fences; the dogs on either side saw it as "trapped prey," and attacked it from both sides through the fences! Make sure to close such gaps so nothing can get into them.]
71. Deck lattice - your dogs or cats can get stuck in the openings under your deck and possibly be strangled. [You can staple or nail "hardware cloth" or 1" chicken-wire mesh to the back side of the lattice so the pet cannot get its head through.]
72. De-icing salts - some formulations may contain chemicals that are hazardous to pets if ingested in large amounts (including licking the substance from their feet and fur). Look for "pet-friendly" de-icing salts.
73. Compost (particularly if moldy)
74. Gasoline*
75. Oil*
76. Pesticides* - including herbicides applied to your lawn
77. Cocoa bean shell mulch/fertilizer* [there's a comprehensive article posted below on this extreme hazard!]
78. Swimming pools and hot tubs - NEVER leave your pet unattended near uncovered pools, even if they can swim - they can't always climb out, and can't swim forever. Also, many contain chemicals which can sicken or kill animals if swallowed, or cause skin problems.

* All contain chemicals that may cause serious illness or death, depending on the circumstances of exposure.

Holiday Hazards

Help your pets enjoy the holidays safely by keeping them away from potential problems on these special days.

79. Alcohol - Alcoholic beverages are toxic to pets and should NEVER be given to them during the holidays or any other time.

Valentine's Day
80. Flowers and candy - Many types of flowers and plants found in bouquets are harmful to dogs and cats if they are ingested (see the above list of hazardous plants). Chocolate can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures, and, in severe cases, chocolate poisoning can be fatal. [The darker and purer the chocolate, the greater the danger - unsweetened dark chocolate and baking cocoa are the worst.]

81. Fake grass - This colorful "grass" may look appetizing to your pets, but it could cause them to choke, or obstruct and possibly strangulate their intestines if ingested.
82. Small toys and other plastic items - If swallowed, small toys and plastic Easter eggs can cause your pet to choke or even damage their intestinal tracts.

4th of July
83. Fireworks - Fireworks can scare your pets, making them run off, or cause serious injuries if detonated near them. Many formulations are also toxic if ingested. [And remember, their hearing is MUCH more acute than ours is, so loud noises can also damage their eardrums, leading to deafness. Animals severely traumatized by loud noise at an early age will typically be terrified of all loud noise for the rest of their lives, so it is best NOT to expose them to such an experience.]

84. Repeatedly opening doors to greet trick-or-treaters can increase the chances of your pets running out. Keep an eye on their whereabouts at all times. If feasible, keep cats in a secure area or closed room when opening doors.
85. Candles - Pets are naturally curious, and may be attracted to the bright lights of the flame in dark areas. Dogs and cats could either burn themselves by the flame or knock the candle over, starting a fire.
86. Xylitol - Candy or gum and even baked goods sweetened with xylitol (typically sold as "sugar-free") are toxic even in very small quantities and should be kept away from your pets. [Xylitol is now used in many "diabetic" products and even toothpaste - read the label and DO NOT share it with your pet!]
87. All forms of chocolate can be harmful to your pet, potentially resulting in poisoning, or even pancreatic inflammation from the high fat content.

88. Bones - Turkey, chicken and other small animal bones are very different from the large bones you find at the pet store. These small bones splinter easily and can cause serious internal damage if swallowed, so NEVER give them to your pet.
89. Hot containers - Your dog or cat will most likely become curious when they smell something cooking. Keep an eye on hot containers so that your pet does not tip them over and get burned.

90. Holiday plants - Christmas rose, holly, lilies, poinsettias and mistletoe are all toxic to dogs and cats.
91. Ribbons - It may look adorable, but placing a ribbon around your pet's neck may cause them to choke.
92. Bubbling lights - Older forms of this attractive decoration may contain methylene chloride, which is a highly toxic chemical.
93. Fire salts - Contain chemicals that could be harmful to pets.
94. Angel hair (spun glass) - Can be irritating to eyes and skin, and could cause intestinal obstruction if eaten in large amounts.
95. Christmas tree water - Stagnant tree water or water containing preservatives could result in stomach upset if ingested.
96. Decoration hooks - Can cause blockage and/or trauma to gastrointestinal tract if swallowed.
97. Styrofoam - Can cause your pets to choke if swallowed.
98. Tinsel - Can cause choking or internal trauma [blockage, tangling & strangulation of the intestines] if swallowed.

New Year's
100. Balloons and confetti - These fun New Year's party decorations can cause your pets to choke or obstruct their intestines if ingested. Keep an eye on your pets when they're around these items, or move them to an area that is not decorated.
101. Loud noises - New Year's is typically a noisy holiday. Unfortunately, loud noises frighten pets and can cause them to run off. Keep your pets in a separate room, away from noisemakers, music, and other loud sounds that may startle them.

                                                                           *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *

We at FlicKennel hope and pray that your beloved pet never falls victim to any of the multitude of potential accidents, chemicals and other hazards abounding in their surroundings. Use basic common sense, just as with raising children, and your pet should live to a very happy ripe old age.

This page is dedicated to the memory of Flick's Payday ML, died 5/28/08, killed by swallowing a 3/4" piece of rough, crushed rock that perforated his intestines.

The following information came in an email from drjon@petplace.com - www.petplace.com is a great site for finding ALL KINDS of information on pets, from the smallest to the largest. The following information is for people who have never had a vet prescribe any of these drugs - our own vet has told us how much BABY aspirin to give our dogs, and we find it to be quite safe and effective IN THE CORRECT DOSAGE for the dog's size, age and condition, but ONLY your animal's veterinarian should decide on the correct dosage - not you.


You should NEVER give your dog medication without first checking with your veterinarian. It is not uncommon for a well-intentioned owner to accidentally poison their dog with medications that are dangerous.

So...what medications should you never give your dog? I'll tell you.

1. Aspirin.  Aspirin toxicity (salicylate toxicity) is poisoning that occurs following the ingestion of aspirin or aspirin-containing products. Aspirin can be especially dangerous when mixed with other drugs such as steroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. There is a much higher risk of toxicity. Aspirin interferes with platelets, which are responsible for helping the blood to clot. Disruption of platelet function increases the amount of time it takes the blood to clot in cases of wounds or lacerations. Spontaneous bleeding may also occur causing pinpoint bruises to appear in the skin and on the gums (petechiae). Aspirin toxicity may cause gastrointestinal problems, respiratory difficulties, neurological problems, bleeding disorders and kidney failure. Gastrointestinal problems are common in dogs.

2. Ibuprofen is a popular and effective over-the-counter medication available to treat pain and inflammation in people. For dogs, ibuprofen can easily exceed toxic levels. The most common cause of ibuprofen toxicity is a well-meaning owner who tries to alleviate pain in his dog by administering a dose he thinks is adequate without knowing the toxic dose. The initial toxic effect is bleeding stomach ulcers. In addition to ulcers, increasing doses of ibuprofen eventually lead to kidney failure and, if left untreated, can be fatal. Symptoms include poor appetite, vomiting, black tarry stools, vomiting blood, abdominal pain, weakness and lethargy

3. Acetaminophen . Common brands include Tylenol®, Percoset®, aspirin free Excedrin® and various sinus, cold and flu medications. Dogs most commonly receive toxic amounts of acetaminophen because owners medicate them without consulting a veterinarian. They also consume tablets that are dropped on the floor or left around. Dogs are less sensitive to acetaminophen than cats. For example, a 50-pound dog would need to ingest over seven 500 mg tablets in order to suffer toxic effects, but a smaller dog (like a miniature dachshund) would need far less. In the cat, one 250 mg acetaminophen tablet could be fatal. If you suspect that your dog (or cat) has ingested any amount of acetaminophen, (one pill or more), contact your family veterinarian or local veterinary emergency facility immediately.

From an email from Dr. Andrew Jones, DVM:


They said it was safe...

Last year I was at a large un-named pet supply store in Spokane doing some research on Alternate products.

I asked about what I could use for flea control on my cat.

The sales clerk showed me a product containing high doses of Tea Tree oil...

Which is potentially VERY toxic to cats, and small dogs.

I informed the oh so helpful salesperson that it is NEVER safe to use on cats, especially as a spray.

She at first challenged me, until I used the 'I am a Veterinarian' card, and then she proceeded to agree with me.

Here is an abstract documenting some of the toxicity:

Toxicity of melaleuca oil and related essential oils applied topically on dogs and cats.

Villar D, Knight MJ, Hansen SR, Buck WB.

National Animal Poison Control Center, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 61801.

Cases of melaleuca oil toxicosis have been reported by veterinarians to the National Animal Poison Control Center when the oil was applied dermally to dogs and cats. In most cases, the oil was used to treat dermatologic conditions at inappropriate high doses. The typical signs observed were depression, weakness, incoordination and muscle tremors. The active ingredients of commercial melaleuca oil are predominantly cyclic terpenes. Treatment of clinical signs and supportive care has been sufficient to achieve recovery without sequelae within 2-3 days.

There is a TON of conflicting information on the Internet about what is safe and natural, and obviously, the staff of the local pet supply store is not usually trained in what is and is not safe. Dr. Jones has compiled an entire learn-at-home/treat-at-home veterinary program for dog and cat owners, which you can examine for yourself at http://www.theonlinevet.com.

Another article from Dr. Jones:
Grape and raisin toxicity in dogs

It seems hard to believe, but as little as one grape can be FATAL to your dog.

In fact I have seen one case of kidney failure in a dog from grape consumption.

Meaning it happens.

And there is no way to predict it.

The point here is to encourage you to NOT leave grapes on the ground, and definitely DON'T feed them to your dog.

Years ago I used to feed them to my last dog - prior to being aware of this.

Here is a very good article from Wikipedia:

The consumption of grapes and raisins presents a potential health threat to dogs. Their toxicity to dogs can cause the animal to develop acute renal failure (the sudden development of kidney failure) with anuria (a lack of urine production). The phenomenon was first identified by the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC), run by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). A trend was seen as far back as 1999.[1] Approximately 140 cases were seen by the APCC in the one year from April 2003 to April 2004, with 50 developing symptoms and seven dying.[2]

Cause and pathology

The reason some dogs develop renal failure following ingestion of grapes and raisins is not known. Types of grapes involved include both seedless and seeded, store bought and homegrown, and grape pressings from wineries.[3] A mycotoxin is suspected to be involved, but one has not been found in grapes or raisins ingested by affected dogs.[4] The estimated toxic dose of grapes is 32 g/kg (1.1 oz/kg) (grams of grapes per kilograms of mass of the dog), and for raisins it is 11-30 g/kg. (0.39 - 1.06 oz/kg) [5] Dogs suffer acute renal failure after ingesting 3 grams per kilogram of raisins or dry matter of grapes. (Dry matter is calculated as 20% of grape weight).[6] The most common pathological finding is proximal renal tubular necrosis.[7] In some cases, an accumulation of an unidentified golden-brown pigment was found within renal epithelial cells.[6]

Symptoms and diagnosis

Vomiting and diarrhea are often the first symptoms of grape or raisin toxicity. They often develop within a few hours of
ingestion. Pieces of grapes or raisins may be present in the vomitus or stool. Further symptoms include weakness, not eating, increased drinking, and abdominal pain. Acute renal failure develops within 48 hours of ingestion.[4] A blood test may reveal increases in blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, phosphorus, and calcium.


Emesis (induction of vomiting) is the generally recommended treatment if a dog has eaten grapes or raisins within the past two hours. A veterinarian may use an emetic such as hydrogen peroxide or apomorphine to cause the dog to vomit. Further treatment may involve the use of activated charcoal to adsorb remaining toxins in the gastrointestinal tract and intravenous fluid therapy in the first 48 hours following ingestion to induce diuresis and help to prevent acute renal failure.[1] Vomiting is treated with antiemetics and the stomach is protected from uremic gastritis(damage to the stomach from increased BUN) with H2 receptor antagonists. BUN, creatinine, calcium, phosphorus, sodium, and potassium levels are closely monitored. Dialysis of the blood (hemodialysis) and peritoneal dialysis can be used to support the kidneys if anuria develops. Oliguria (decreased urine production) can be treated with dopamine or furosemide to stimulate urine production.[5]

The prognosis is guarded in any dog developing symptoms of toxicosis. A negative prognosis has been associated with oliguria or anuria, weakness, difficulty walking, and severe hypercalcemia (increased blood calcium levels).[7]
Flickennel - Dachshunds with ALTITUDE!!!

We add new stuff to this page, so keep checking the bottom of it for MORE things YOU NEED TO KNOW!!!

An article posted on eHow.com gives some answers to the question, "What Plants Cause Renal [Kidney] Failure in Dogs?" and the sidebars list links to related articles on treatments for dogs with renal failure. The plants are common in many homes, yards, gardens, parks and other places dogs are liable to be, so it will be very beneficial for you to read about them.

This article is from The Saturday Evening Post, which has several other articles on dogs and their health.

The Hidden Dangers of Cocoa Mulch

By Ashley Mitek

It is a mistake every pet owner could easily make. As spring approaches, you head to the local home and garden store for mulch to freshen up your flower beds. Next to the bags of traditional shredded mulch are bags of a newer type—cocoa mulch.

According to National Cocoa Shell, the nation’s largest retailer of cocoa shell mulch, the material is leftover from the cocoa bean roasting process—making the product more environmentally friendly than regular mulch. Plus, who couldn’t resist putting chocolate smelling mulch down in their garden? For chocolate lovers across the country it’s a dream come true.

But there’s a catch. Cocoa mulch is extremely toxic to pets, especially when curious dogs have access to the outdoors.

Dr. Maureen McMichael is a veterinarian at the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Urbana who specializes in emergency and critical care. She says, “Cocoa mulch is significantly more toxic than milk chocolate or even baker’s chocolate because it has quite a bit more theobromine in it.” Theobromine is the toxic compound in most chocolates that is responsible for the clinical signs seen in pets after ingestion.

Though it, too, can be deadly to pets, milk chocolate has only 44 mg. per ounce of theobromine. Baking chocolate has nearly eight times the concentration of theobromine in it compared to milk chocolate, making it one of the most toxic kinds of chocolate, but still not as concentrated as cocoa mulch.

In addition to having more theobromine in it, cocoa mulch is also usually found in an unlimited supply to the pet. Your Labrador may gobble up that chocolate bar on the counter, but left to their own devices, most dogs will eat cocoa mulch until you catch them or toxic effects start to set in, leading to the ingestion of large amounts of the toxin. “Unfortunately, many of the dogs that present with a history of eating cocoa mulch do not survive if they were not stopped quickly,” notes Dr. McMichael.

The clinical signs of chocolate or cocoa mulch toxicity include: hyperactivity, muscle tremors, fast heart rate, hyperthermia, and seizures. There are anecdotal reports from gardeners who unknowingly purchased the mulch and later found their dog dead after a very short exposure time. Incidents such as this are likely a result of heart arrhythmias that develop after ingestion.

After time, the sweet smell of the cocoa mulch will wear off, and some have questioned if, after that point, it is safe for dogs to be around it. Dr. McMichael cautions that, “it is possible that dogs are not attracted to it once the smell wears off but that does not eliminate its toxic load—it is still toxic.”

The moral of the story is: don’t purchase cocoa mulch if you have an outdoor pet. That said, if you happen to make the mistake of buying the mulch and you catch your animal eating a bite, time is of the essence. The quicker you can get Fido to the veterinary emergency clinic, the better the chances are of survival.

For more information on the topic, please contact your local veterinarian.

Ashley Mitek is an information specialist at University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine.

​Becky writing here... If you ever catch your dog eating the cocoa mulch - or you smell chocolate on its breath and you didn't have any chocolate in the house - you have to do something about it ASAP. Unless you live next-door to your vet (as I used to when I lived in town!), there's something really simple YOU can do AT HOME.

I know this is going to sound really gross, but I want you to be able to save your dog's lifeIf you will take the time to immediately make your dog throw up what it has eaten, that's even better than trying to race to the vet. Use any safe means you can, to get 2 teaspoons of 3% HYDROGEN PEROXIDE (no more, please, and only 1 teaspoon for a little puppy!) down the throat of your dachshund or other small breed (up to 2-3 tablespoons for a large dog), and keep the dog in the bathtub or on a smooth, washable floor until it vomits - you want to be absolutely certain it vomits every bit. It shouldn't take any more than 15-20 minutes, if that. It would take you at least that long to call the vet, get the dog in the car, fight the traffic to get to the clinic, and pray they weren't tied up with a different emergency, or the vet was in surgery, or out on a farm call or something. There's nothing like a genuine emergency to make everything go wrong!

Keep a fresh bottle of 3% hydrogen peroxide on hand - you can find it in the pharmacy corner of any store, and it's very inexpensive: a couple of bucks for a pint. A 3cc plastic syringe (no needle, please!) makes an easy applicator: 2.5 cc = 1 teaspoon, 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon. You can buy a larger syringe from the pharmacist or the local Big R or Tractor Supply (or any similar feed-store that sells animal vaccines), but if the dog you're treating is small, like a dachshund, it's a lot easier to handle a 3cc or 6cc syringe. This may sound like I'm trying to "practice medicine without a license," but it's basic emergency first-aid, and if it saves a single life, isn't that what first-aid is all about?

It is ESSENTIAL to get as much of the toxic material OUT of the dog as you can, as FAST as possible. SAVE the stuff, if it IS the mulch, and take it with you to the vet as proof of what the dog ate, and how much was expelled. I pray you never have to use this information, but it's far better to know what to do and never have to do it, than to not know - and helplessly watch your furry best friend die because you couldn't get it to the vet in time, when a little bit of effort on your part could have saved it. ...

I had a 90-lb dog that ate an entire 16-oz. slab of "Bar Bait" rat poison, and I had to do this exact procedure - let me tell you, IT WORKED, and it saved her life! I didn't have a syringe at the time, so I floated some sliced cheese (which she loved) in about a half-cup of peroxide (she was a BIG DOG, and I did sort of go overboard), and she lapped up the peroxide while trying to get the cheese. I was thrilled to see how quickly and effectively the peroxide worked - but she wouldn't touch cheese again for WEEKS! Afterward, I still had the vet dose her with the Vitamin K that counters warfarin rat poison, but getting the poison OUT of her system immediately was what actually saved her, since our vet at that time was at least an hour's drive from our home.

2-15-17  Becky here again. Yesterday I had to use hydrogen peroxide to potentially save the life of one of my dogs. I was taking my morning vitamins and dropped the Vitamin D 2000 capsule on the floor. Spike darted over and gulped it down. I have been reading about Vitamin D toxicity in dogs and knew I needed to get it out of him as soon as possible, so Spike got two 3ml doses of hydrogen peroxide. Within TWO OR THREE MINUTES he began to throw up and did not stop until every last bit of his stomach contents had been expelled. A little over two teaspoons of peroxide did it, and he had no ill effects from the Vitamin D or the peroxide. I might have gotten by with one teaspoonful, but since it's all going to come out anyway, I'd rather not have to re-dose to make it happen. The fizzing action of peroxide in the stomach is apparently an unhappy feeling, leading to the lifesaving reflex.

7-17-12   Do you have problems with fleas, ticks and/or mosquitoes where you live? I just found reference to a product I'd never heard of, which repels by its odor (DOES NOT KILL) these vermin as well as fire ants, gnats and even Canada geese that graze (and defecate very messily) on lawns and golf courses - it makes the grass taste bad so the geese leave and don't come back! It's completely non-toxic and safe for people, pets, fish, birds, butterflies and beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs. What is it? It's a spray-on product called Mosquito Barrier. It's 99.3% extra-strong garlic juice and some food-grade preservatives - no chemicals or poisons. It's been around for at least 10 years (I haven't seen any date of original production on the website yet), is used around the country and evidently around the world - I was visitor number 3,187,286 to the website. Cities, golf courses, restaurants with outdoor dining areas, parks - all are spraying on a large scale for mosquitoes and other listed pests, and having amazing results with this product, as are ordinary home and pet owners. This garlic spray is totally safe, unless you're allergic to garlic! The odor even dissipates within a very short time, so it doesn't make your home or yard reek. The effect lasts 3-4 weeks or more, even through moderate rainstorms. Add canola oil and dish soap, then spray it on standing water, marshy spots in the yard, tires, etc., where mosquitoes breed - bye-bye wigglers! ... I'm tired of having fleas bug my dogs and I REFUSE to apply poisons to them, so I've ordered some Mosquito Barrier to make the fleas flee!
2-13-13 I just came across an article on http://healthypets.mercola.com that describes a new type of rodenticide (sold under a variety of brand names - Arrex, Commando, Dexol, Kilrat, GophaRid, Phosvin, Ridall, Ratol and Sweeney’s Poison Peanuts ) made with zinc phosphide that not only kills rats, mice, moles, gophers and other rodents, but can kill your pet AND YOU! Please take the time to read this article, and DO NOT use ANY KIND of rodenticide in your home, garage or outbuildings - critters that eat it don't die immediately, but have time to crawl out where your dog can find and eat them. Any other predator (cat, fox, coyote, owl, hawk, etc.) that eats the affected varmint will also die - and whatever scavenger eats IT will die - repeated over and over until the stuff is finally too diluted to work.

Also, I had "smart mice" in my Colorado home that would carry D-Con pellets and chunks of Bar-Bait from where I had "safely" put them so the dogs couldn't have access to them, around the house and stash them in the crevices of my sculptured carpet - out where the dogs could easily find them! It's as if they KNOW what the stuff is, and try to turn the tables on you for trying to kill them! After that experience, I decided it was a lot safer for all concerned, to just not use the poison baits. Snap traps, glue traps and live traps all work, and are much less likely to kill the wrong victim. We've even made and used water traps using plastic buckets that are VERY effective!

This zinc phosphide is scary stuff - it interacts with stomach acids and any other liquid to form lethal phosphine gas, and that's what can kill YOU, when your dog throws up - it's formulated with an emetic to cause pets and humans to vomit the bad stuff, which rodents can't do, but the zinc phosphide interacts with the vomited stomach contents to give off toxic gas, which gets inhaled by unsuspecting people and animals, including the vet who attempts to treat the animal. Thankfully, very few cases have been reported, but it IS a hazard that all pet owners should know about. I've already written about dogs ingesting pennies, which are not solid copper, but a very thin 'skin' of copper around zinc slugs. The dog's stomach acids dissolve the copper, then the zinc, and the zinc kills the dog if it isn't treated immediately - and who notices a dog swallowing a penny. By the time the symptoms are noticed, the dog is taken to a vet, and the cause is discovered, it's usually too late.

The article gives full directions for dealing with an animal that has ingested one of these rodenticides, so PLEASE make sure you read it, in case your dog or another animal gets into some of it. AND DON'T USE THIS POISON!

5-24-13  I just received an email from Dr. Karen Becker, an "alternative vet" who practices holistic veterinary medicine, about a new danger to our pets - pesticides that contain "Bromethalin: The New Rodenticide That Can Kill Your Pet." This neurotoxin acts so quickly on the brain and nervous system - a couple of hours - that there is only a VERY small window of opportunity to treat the animal for it. There is also NO KNOWN DIAGNOSTIC TEST FOR IT, AND NO ANTIDOTE FOR IT!!! You have to KNOW that your pet consumed the poison, because there is no other way to find out, and there may not be time to get your animal to a vet!

​​The only treatment so far is the immediate emergency dosing of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting, followed by dosing with activated charcoal to adsorb (attract and hold) any leftover particles of the poison so it can be expelled by the body before it has a chance to be absorbed into the body tissues.

​​Hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal are two substances that NO first-aid kit should be without, as they can be used by both humans and animals when time is of the utmost importance - and poisoning is definitely one of those instances. Charcoal can be used in those cases where the poison is caustic (drain cleaners, petroleum distillates, etc.) and vomiting is NOT a recommended option, because it will bind the poison and keep it from doing its 'dirty work,' giving time to seek medical help. 

This particular article's page contains a side-bar listing some other articles - you would do well to read them, too!​​
11-10-14 My email this morning brought a new item of interest to dog owners - 5 Quick Tips If Your Pet Becomes Poisoned. Here's the 'meat' of the article, which you are encouraged (on that web-page) to share:

5 Quick Tips for Dealing with a Pet Poisoning Emergency

1. Be Ready

Before you ever need them, make sure your veterinarian’s phone number, the number of the closest emergency veterinary hospital, and the number for a pet poison center are saved in your phone. The Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) number is 888-426-4435; the Pet Poison Hotline is 800-213-6680. [Add these numbers to your cell-phone emergency numbers for ready access when you're away from home!]

And remember that you may be able to provide important, even life-saving initial treatment at home if you have a pet first aid kit ready and easily accessible in an emergency.

2. Keep Your Cool
Maintaining your composure when faced with a pet emergency can be hard to do, but it’s really important if you want to insure your furry family member gets the help he needs. If you stay calm, you’ll be better able to provide first aid, as well as vital information to the people treating your pet.

3. Evaluate Your Pet’s Condition
It’s important to make a clear-eyed observation of your pet’s condition. Is she behaving abnormally? Is she bleeding? Is she having trouble breathing? Is she having convulsions or seizures? Is she unresponsive? If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, your pet needs immediate medical attention. Call your vet or the nearest emergency animal hospital and alert them that you’re on your way.

4. Be Prepared to Answer Questions
What is the toxic substance you know or suspect your pet ingested? Either pack up the substance itself (this is ideal), or write down the exact name of the product or medication. You’ll also want to write down the strength (typically in milligrams) of the drug, the concentration of active ingredients in herbicides or pesticides and the EPA registration number, and any other information you think might help the veterinarian who will be treating your pet.

When did the poisoning happen? Did you catch your pet actually ingesting the substance? Has your pet vomited? If so, did she vomit up any of the poison or packaging?

5. Be Proactive

If you know or suspect your pet has ingested a poison, don’t wait for symptoms before seeking help. Time is of the essence in preventing the poison from being absorbed by your pet’s body. The faster you are able to treat your furry companion at home (with guidance from your vet or a pet poison hotline), or get her to a veterinarian, the better her chances for survival and a full recovery.​​

I've already posted (above) the importance of keeping both hydrogen peroxide and activated charcoal ON HAND in your home, and even in a first-aid kit in your car - many accidental poisonings can happen when you and/or your dog are away from home, and both items will work equally well on you and your dog.
added 3-29-15

​The Cause of Half of All Pet Poisonings: ­ Are You Making These Mistakes?

By Dr. Karen Becker

Every year, tens of thousands of pet guardians call animal poison control centers or their veterinarians concerned that their dog or cat has swallowed a toxic substance.

While most conscientious pet owners are aware of poisons and other potential hazards around the home, many don’t realize that several very common over-­the­-counter and prescription human medications can spell disaster for a beloved pet.

9 Drugs That Top the List of Dangerous Human Medications for Pets

1. Non­steroidal anti-­inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Topping the list of human medications that can get into the mouths of pets are non­steroidal anti-­inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs. Brand names include Advil, Motrin, and Aleve.

Your pet is extremely sensitive to compounds in these medications and can become very ill from even a very small dose. Cats can suffer kidney and liver damage, and any pet that ingests NSAIDs can develop ulcers of the digestive tract.

Symptoms of poisoning include digestive upset, vomiting, bloody stool, increased thirst, increased
frequency of urination, staggering, and seizures.

2. Acetaminophen. Next on the list is another anti­-inflammatory called acetaminophen, the most well known of which is Tylenol. Other drugs, including certain types of Excedrin and several sinus and cold preparations, also contain acetaminophen.

Cats are at particular risk from acetaminophen, as just two extra­-strength tablets can be fatal. If your dog ingests acetaminophen, permanent liver damage can be the result. And the higher the dose, the more likely that red blood cell damage will occur.

Symptoms of acetaminophen poisoning are lethargy, trouble breathing, dark­colored urine, diarrhea,
and vomiting.

3. Pseudoephedrine. Number three is pseudoephedrine. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant compound found in a wide range of cold and sinus medications. Many of these preparations contain acetaminophen as well.

Pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine, another decongestant, are highly toxic to pets. A tablet
containing just 30 milligrams of pseudoephedrine can cause a small dog to show clinical signs of
toxicity, and just three tablets can be fatal.

4. Antidepressants. If your dog or cat ingests an antidepressant, symptoms can include listlessness, vomiting, and in some cases, a condition known as serotonin syndrome. This condition can cause agitation, disorientation, and an elevated heart rate, along with elevated blood pressure and body temperature, tremors, and seizures.

The drugs Cymbalta and Effexor topped the list of antidepressant pet poisonings in 2013. For some
reason, kitties are drawn to these medications, which can cause severe neurologic and cardiac side effects. Other common brand names of antidepressants are Prozac and Lexapro.

5. Drugs to treat diabetes. If you or a family member takes an oral medication for diabetes, including glipizide and glyburide, you’ll want to make sure to keep these medications out of your pet’s reach. Diabetes drugs can cause a dangerous drop in your pet’s blood sugar levels, which can result in disorientation, lack of coordination, and seizures.

6. ADD and ADHD drugs. Prescription attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs are amphetamines and are very dangerous for pets. Ingesting even minimal amounts of these medications can cause life-­threatening tremors, seizures, elevated body temperature, and heart problems. Common brand names include Concerta, Adderall, and Ritalin.

7. Vitamin D derivatives. Vitamin D derivatives like calcitriol and calcipotriene are used to treat a wide range of human conditions, including psoriasis, thyroid problems, and osteoporosis.

These compounds can be rapidly fatal if ingested by your dog or cat because they cause blood calcium level spikes. Signs of toxicosis include loss of appetite, vomiting, increased urination, and excessive thirst due to kidney failure.

8. Beta ­blockers. Even taken in very small quantities, beta blockers used to treat high blood pressure can cause serious problems for pets. Overdoses can trigger life-­threatening decreases in blood pressure and a very slow heart rate.

9. Benzodiazepines and sleep aids. Benzodiazepines and sleep aids with brand names like Xanax,
Klonopin, Ambien, and Lunesta, are designed to reduce anxiety and help people sleep better.
However, in pets, they sometimes have the opposite effect.

About half the dogs who ingest sleep aids become agitated instead of sedated. In addition, these drugs may cause severe lethargy, incoordination, and a slowed breathing rate. In cats, some forms of benzodiazepines can cause liver failure.

Keeping Your Pet Safe

To prevent your dog or cat from getting into your medications, always keep them safely out of reach and never administer a medication to your pet without first consulting with your veterinarian.

Never leave loose pills in a plastic sandwich bag – the bags are too easy to chew into. Make sure all family members and guests do the same, keeping their medications out of reach.

If you keep your medication in a pill box or weekly pill container, make sure to store the container in a cabinet, as your dog might think it’s a plastic chew toy.

Never store your medications near your pet’s medications. Pet poison hotlines receive hundreds of
calls every year from concerned pet owners who have inadvertently given their own medication to their pet.

Hang up your purse or backpack. Curious pets will explore the contents of your bag and simply placing it up out of reach solves the problem.

Remember: nearly 50 percent of all pet poisonings involve human drugs. Pets metabolize medications very differently from people. Even seemingly benign over­-the­-counter herbal medications, including human vitamins and mineral supplements, may cause serious poisoning in pets.

If your pet has ingested a human over-­the-­counter or prescription medication, please call your veterinarian, your local emergency animal hospital, or Pet Poison Helpline’s 24­-houranimal poison control center at 800-213­-6680 immediately.
HEARTWORMS are portrayed as a super-prevalent, pervasive threat to our dogs and cats, all year round, everywhere, but are they really? This webpage suggests otherwise, and that the basic threat-assessment is most likely driven by conflict-of-interest - the old "root of all evil" - the love of MONEY! It pays to be inquisitive about the motivation behind drug prescriptions, as well as their true effectiveness and side-effects, not only on ourselves but on our animal friends as well. I asked a vet in my area about the prevalence of heartworms here (upstate New York), and he said he'd found some - but in dogs that were already ON heartworm drugs, so I asked "Why give the drugs if they don't actually PREVENT the worms - their very name suggests that they "prevent" heartworms!" (The drugs actually kill worms already in the body, and can be lethal to your pet if the worms are already at the adult stage.) If maintaining excellent health is doable by other means than by over-use of drugs, especially those with potentially lethal consequences, why shouldn't we be using the other means?! We're being informed with increasing frequency of new threats to health and the environment through drugs and other chemicals that affect not only us but all the other creatures sharing our ride on this big blue ball hurtling through space that we call home. If we can reduce the dependence on those chemicals, using safer and more-effective methods, LET'S!!! Please read the article and the suggested options - I'm using some of them for my own dogs instead of the drugs. - Becky

4-8-16 Here is another article on the same topic, from another source. Pumping my dogs full of toxins in an effort to prevent heartworm does NOT appeal to me at all. I would far rather keep them healthy and their immune systems strong enough to repel parasites. I'm also adding pulverized brewer's yeast tablets on their feed daily, rather than poking pills down their throats, so they're "walking bug-repellents" to the local fleas and ticks, and I hope to mosquitoes as well. They get diatomaceous earth sprinkled on their food every day, too, so I've never seen any signs of intestinal worms, either.
9-4-15   We've been made aware of another awesome website that teaches pet owners (or even occasional pet-sitters) how to keep their pets safe in and around their home. This Home Safety Guide for Pet Owners from Expertise.com is pretty comprehensive and we recommend that you read and bookmark it, then feel free to share it with your family and friends. You can even share it on Facebook and other social media websites - I just did!