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Dog poisonings are greatest cause for vet visits

This past week has been pretty traumatic in our household when someone deliberately threw an open container of rat poison over our fence. It took a couple of days to realize that the poison was in the yard, and when one of them stopped eating, we knew it was trouble.

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See Johnny's art show in Ojai
Johnny Ortez-Tibbels
Rex is getting better
Mike Szymanski

They are Dachshunds, after all, and they'll eat anything and everything.

When the vet confirmed that the leaner one, Rex, was poisoned, I found the spill (with some fast-food wrappers) in a remote part of the yard, and took in the other two to prove that they were also poisoned by d-CON which will be outlawed in California as of July 1.

Here are some interesting things that I found out along the way:

* Many communities do not record or even take reports on dog poisonings.

* Police will consider an attack against your dog a crime if the dog is taken, but not necessarily if harmed.

* Animal cruelty includes deliberate poisonings, but it often requires an eyewitness, and rarely will Animal Services or police investigate such a case unless there are deliberate threats.

* More than 100 readers have written since the original story came out and also felt there was no help from either police nor animal control officials. In many cases, they knew who did the poisonings.

* Your local ASPCA does take reports and can help get the word out if there is a rash of poisonings in a specific neighborhood or area.

See the whole original story here: My dogs were poisoned and no one seems to care

My vet supported the Human Society's contention that vomiting and diarrhea are the most common reasons for veterinarian emergency evaluations, but he rarely sees more than one a year due to actual poisonings.

The ASPC and Human Society confirm that there are no official statistics, but there are estimates that as many as 10,000 cats and dogs die each year from exposure to ethylene glycol containing antifreeze. Irreversible kidney failure can be caused by only one lick of this poison.

The ASPCA's Animal Poison Control Center gets more than 140,000 calls a year related to pets being exposed to toxics. Most of this is related to items found in the homes.

Here are some stats:

45,816 calls involved prescription and over-the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements

29,020 calls related to insecticides

17,453 calls pertaining to people food

7,858 calls related to ingestion of common house and garden plants

7,680 for veterinary medications

6,639 related to rodenticides

4,143 for household cleaners

3,304 related to heavy metals (lead, zinc, and mercury)

2,329 for fertilizer and other garden products

2,175 for household and automotive chemicals

Average costs for the treatments can range from $2,000 to $5,000, according to the Human Society, especially for internstinal sugery, pancreatitis, gastroenteritis and more.

For rat poisons, the cost can be $750 to $4,000 for antifree ingestion it could cost $2,000-6,000+, for chocolate $250-2,000+and for grapes or raisins $2,000-5,000+.

Compare that to being hit by a car, $250-8,000+ or dog bite wounds: $1,000-10,000+ or heat stroke: $1,500-6,000+.

Rex is eating now, the puppies are fine. I am still asked to check their gums to see if they go white, that's a dangerous sign and a signal for poisoning. They are being weaned BACK to their regular dog food (no more chicken and herring and beef ribs).

Rex will be on a regime of Vitamin K for a few months, but his X-rays show that the poisonous fluids that surrounded his heart and kept his blood from clotting is on the wane. He is getting better.

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