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|ASPCA Dispels Common Misconceptions Related to Poisons
MYTH: If eaten, poinsettias are deadly.
FACT: Poinsettia ingestion typically induce only mild to moderate irritation in the gastrointestinal
tract of pets. Keeping the plant out of reach to avoid stomach upset is a good idea, but pet owners
don't need to banish poinsettias from their homes for fear of a fatal exposure.
MYTH: Swiffer WetJets contain an ingredient similar to antifreeze and causes liver failure in
FACT: When used according to label directions, the ingredients in Swiffer WetJets are safe
around pets and will not cause liver damage at product concentrations. Despite a similar-sounding
name, the propylene glycol n-butyl ether or propylene glycol n-propyl ether found in Swiffer differs
substantially from ethylene glycol, the potentially toxic ingredient present in most antifreeze
products, which can cause kidney, not liver, failure.
MYTH: Salt can be used to induce vomiting.
FACT: It was once believed that giving pets a spoonful of salt was an effective means of making
them regurgitate potentially harmful substances. However, salt is not a reliable emetic and could
actually lead to a sodium ion poisoning if too much is ingested.
FACT: Macadamia nuts cause dogs to lose the use of their hind limbs! Dogs that consume
roughly one gram of macadamia nuts or more per pound of body weight can develop lethargy,
vomit or suffer from an increased body temperature, progressing to loss of coordination, tremors,
and profound weakness primarily in the hind limbs. So far, dogs are the only species known to
experience these effects. Usually these clinical effects resolve completely in 24 to 48 hours with
MYTH: Greenies pet treats are deadly to dogs, causing intestinal blockage when swallowed.
FACT: Although the safety of Greenies remains controversial, the ASPCA reported that Greenies
do not pose a higher risk for gastrointestinal tract obstruction compared with other edible chew
products. Always watch your pet with new toys and treats. Certain treats and toys that are safe for
some pets may not be the best option for your pet.
FACT: Pennies are poisonous if ingested! US pennies minted after 1982 contain 99.2% zinc
(and 0.8% copper) by weight. Although an essential trace nutrient, zinc is a concern because
ingestion of substantial amounts can cause damage to the kidneys, liver, red blood cells and
gastrointestinal tract. As a results of the high zinc content, pennies minted after 1982 are
considered to be potentially toxic if swallowed.
Data from March 1, 2007 JAVMA Vol 230, No. 5 News
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