Hawaiian Hazards to Pets

There are some problems that we see in emergencies frequently. Knowing the common hazards for pets is only half the battle – the other half is keeping your pet away from those hazards. Some things, like bee stings and centipede bites, are not always avoidable, but we know that pets kept in an enclosed area are much less likely to get into trouble. Most of the poison ingestions that we see at our hospital are in “free-roaming” pets. The suffering that occurs when wonderful companions are exposed to dangerous things – like poisons or big trucks – truly saddens us. Please do your best to keep your pet safe.

Download Hawaiian Poisonous Plant Brochure

Bug Stings and Bites

Bees, centipedes, scorpions, and spiders….we have them all! Aside from being painful, bug stings and bites can cause allergic reactions. Most of the time, the reaction is mild, but sometimes life-threatening reactions can occur.

The following is a guideline for how to determine whether your pet needs to be seen on emergency:

  • Mild allergic reactions:  Redness, soreness, and possibly swelling right at the site of the bite or sting
  • Moderate allergic reactions:  Facial swelling and itching, hives that are usually most noticeable along the torso and belly.
  • Severe allergic reactions: Vomiting, diarrhea, wobbliness, difficulty breathing (this can happen if facial swelling is severe), fainting, collapse, death

If you are concerned that your pet may be having a mild or moderate reaction, please do not hesitate to call us. If your pet has had a severe reaction in the past, or if you notice ANY of the symptoms of having a severe reaction, SEE A VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY.

Toad Poisoning

Bufo toads in Hawaii are poisonous. They like to hang out around and in water sources – like ponds, swimming pools or just hopping around in the rain – especially at night. In most cases, pets become intrigued by the toads and either nose them around or actually try to bite them. When disturbed, bufo toads squirt a milky poison out along their backs. When predators, like dogs and very rarely cats, try to bite or pick up the toad in their mouths, the poison absorbs right through the pet’s tongue and gums into the bloodstream. The poison causes drooling or foaming at the mouth, vomiting, wobbliness, disorientation, seizures, collapse, heart problems, and death.

Once the poison is in your pets’ mouth, BEFORE DOING ANYTHING ELSE, RINSE THE MOUTH OUT REALLY WELL. Turn on a water hose outside or place your pet in a sink or tub and run water in a stream so that the water washes the poison OUT of the mouth and not DOWN the throat. Continue rinsing for 5-10 minutes.

If vomiting persists after rinsing the mouth out, or if there are any signs of seizuring, disorientation or weakness please see a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY for further care.

Rat and Mouse Poison

A lot of people have problems with rodent control and put out rat and mouse poison.

There are three main types of rat and mouse poison that we see:

Anticoagulant poison – this poison causes pets to not be able to clot their blood.  Symptoms can include:

  • Bruising anywhere on the body, including along the white parts of the eyes
  • Bleeding from the nose or teeth or a cut that won’t stop bleeding
  • Coughing bloody specks or sputum or urinating blood

Cholecalciferol poison – this type of poison can cause kidney failure.

Symptoms can include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Decreased appetite and/or vomiting

Bromethalin poison – this type of poison can neurologic problems.

Symptoms can include:

  • Hyperactivity, tremors
  • Rear leg weakness or paralysis
  • Seizures

Prevention is the BEST way to deal with rat and mouse poison.  Be aware of what you have around the house, and what your neighbors or landlord, etc use for rodent control.  These poisons are made to taste good – that’s why the rats and mice eat them.  Dogs will often eat the poison directly, while cats (and some dogs) will get anticoagulant rat poison when they eat rats or mice that have already been exposed to the poison.  Blood tests are often needed to determine whether treatment is needed for either of these poisons.   All three types of poison can be deadly.  If you have any reason to suspect that your pet has eaten either type of poison, seek veterinary care immediately.

Antifreeze/Radiator Coolant

A lot of people use antifreeze as a radiator coolant. Most brands of antifreeze are very toxic to the kidneys. Cats and dogs often like the sweet taste of antifreeze, and it only takes a small amount to cause death due to kidney failure.

The keys to the successful treatment of antifreeze poisoning are early detection and aggressive treatment. Unfortunately, catching it early is not always easy.

There are some symptoms that you can watch for:

  • Wobbliness, walking around acting a bit drunk
  • Drinking a lot of water
  • Vomiting
  • Refusing to eat
  • Not wanting to get up

If there is a chance that your pet got exposed to antifreeze, seek medical attention IMMEDIATELY.

The best treatment is PREVENTION. At home, make sure that your radiator does not leak and that you store any antifreeze containers out of the reach of your pets. If you do have a radiator leak, soak up the antifreeze liquid into paper towels and throw the material away or throw cat litter or dirt over the leak, then sweep up the material and dispose of it into a sealed trash can.