Nope, this isn’t gonna be a review or comment on either the old campy series or the 1998 movie Lost in Space though that phrase is often heard in my house followed by peals of laughter-it’s just hard not to burst out laughing at that cheesy line, but I digress.
No, what I want to make you aware of is Poison Prevention Week, March 15-22. Although it was originally created to raise awareness with parents with small children, vets are calling attention to the public for keeping pets safe as well. You’ve probably seen those toxic plant lists and you can view an infographic here to refresh your memory on common toxic substances. But what I want to share is far more insidious that more and more pet parents are engaging in because it’s thought of as “cute behavior.”
One thing that is becoming more and more common is that many dogs and cats will lick your skin after you’ve applied lotions or medicated creams. Personally, it grosses me out, I know where that tongue has been and frankly don’t want it licking my skin but more importantly, I want my fur-baby to stay safe. There are many types of lotions and ointments, creams and topical medications that can potentially make your pet very sick if ingested. Obviously it’s better to discourage licking you following application of creams or lotions. Often times, a yummy smell such as vanilla or coconut oil based products seem to draw pets to lick you. If your pet has ingested a potentially toxic topical product, you should contact your vet or emergency facility right away.
Here are some over the counter topical products that are dangerous to pets include:
- Personal care products that contain dioxane, parabens, phthalates, metholisothiaolinone, toluene, triclosan, sodium laurel sulfate, and propylene glycol. Found in toothpastes, body washes, moisturizers, make-up/cosmetics, antiperspirants, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, sunscreens. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t use it. Instead use: emu and coconut oil, oregano oil, mild soap without triclosan, water or water mixed with baking soda.
- Creams containing hydrocortisone which is often used to control itching. Can increase thirst and urination, panting, vomiting and diarrhea.
- Ointments & lotions containing antibiotics often called ‘triple antibiotic” and applied to cuts, scratches, etc. Can cause stomach upset.
- Antifungal creams can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
- Products containing zinc oxide can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
- Muscle rub creams – many of these contain salicylate, aspirin-like compounds that can cause vomiting or stomach ulcers. Other potential ingredients include menthol or capsaicin.
- Prescription topical products including steroid based creams, hormone creams, anti-inflammatory pain med creams (i.e. Flurbiprofen for topical relief of arthritis), vitamin A compounds (retinoids).
- Minoxidil – aka Rograine. Hair regrowth product originally used as a blood pressure medication. Upon ingestion, symptoms displayed are vomiting, lethargy, progression to fluid build up in lungs and eventually heart failure.
- Calcipotiene (Dovonex) – used to treat psoriasis. Even a small amount can cause death in dogs and cats; it also causes vomiting and kidney failure-yikes.
- 5-flurouracil (5-FU and Efudex) – treats solar keratosis (precancerous sun damage and skin cancer in humans). If ingested by pets, can cause seizures, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, bone marrow suppression. Extremely dangerous to use around animals, ingestion almost always results in death. Don’t mess around with this one.
Tips for Keeping your Pet Safe from Topical Products.
Prevent your pet from licking you after you’e applied products to your skin, even non-toxic products. Allow all topical products to soak in thoroughly or cover before contact with your pet. Never apply a topical meant for human use on your pet without consulting a vet. After applying a topical product, OTC product or prescription, thoroughly wash your hands before touching your pet. Store all products away from pets, and contact your vet or emergency veterinary clinic immediately if you believe your fur-kid may have come into contact with any potentially harmful products. Remember…be alert and keep your fur babies safe.
Live, love, bark! <3