E-Cigarettes and Dogs
With the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes, commonly called E-cigs, comes an increased risk of toxicity to dogs whose owners use them.
Marketed as smoke-free substitutes for traditional cigarettes, they’re shaped like a long cigarette, battery operated, and filled with a replaceable cartridge of E-liquid that contains a mixture of ingredients such as nicotine, flavorings, glycerin and propylene glycol. An atomizer heats the liquid, turning it into a vapor that is then inhaled while creating a cloud that resembles cigarette smoke (a practice colloquially referred to as “vaping”).
Although their safety for humans hasn’t yet been determined, each E-cigarette cartridge contains 6 to 24 mg of nicotine, the equivalent of one to two regular cigarettes, while their enhanced flavoring and aroma make them highly attractive to dogs.
The dangers of ingesting E-liquids include gastrointestinal obstruction and nicotine toxicity, while chewing on the sharp plastic can cause oral trauma. According to petpoisonhelpline.com, “the ingestion of a single cartridge can result in clinical signs and potentially death for a dog less than 10 pounds.”
While many dogs will vomit naturally after ingesting E-liquids, the signs of toxicity are dose-dependent and usually begin within 15 minutes to one hour of ingestion. When large amounts are consumed, the effects can be life threatening, but even small amounts can induce symptoms. Without treatment, nicotine toxicity can cause paralysis of the breathing muscles and dogs may die, sometimes within hours.
If you’re a “vaper”, contact your vet immediately if your dog exhibits any of the following symptoms: tremors, weakness, stumbling and/or loss of coordination, depression, hyperactivity, lethargy, rapid breathing or difficulty breathing, drooling, dilated pupils, diarrhea, seizures, collapse, slow or fast heart rate and/or cardiac arrhythmias.
Of primary importance is reducing the amount of nicotine in his stomach while keeping him alive until his body breaks it down. You may be instructed to induce vomiting if you saw your dog ingest the E-liquid and he’s alert. Do NOT use antacids as the stomach acid helps decrease the absorption of the nicotine. If his exposure was dermal (his paws or fur came in contact with any spilled liquid), bathe him promptly using a mild dishwashing soap.
If however, his symptoms are severe, bring him to your vet or to the nearest emergency clinic where his stomach may be pumped (gastric lavage) and repeated doses of activated charcoal or intravenous fluids used to reduce further nicotine absorption and enhance its elimination. A ventilator may also be used to assist with his breathing until the toxins are cleared from his system. If needed, other supportive care may include oxygen and seizure control medications such as diazepam (valium).
It’s said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and if you’re a pet parent who “vapes”, paw-lease do so responsibly. Besides cartridges, there are also E-juice bottles, and while childproof, your dog’s teeth may pierce the packing. To prevent any mishaps, when not in use, all supplies and accessories MUST be locked safely away and out of reach. It’s also best to “vape” in another room or in one that’s properly ventilated – for your sake as well as his.
Dogs may nip or bite for a variety of reasons. The following are the most common:
When these dogs bite, their likeliest targets are the ones nearest to them: members of their own human families. The expression “Let sleeping dogs lie” is never more true than in the case of an owner stepping over a dog napping in an inconvenient place or brushing one off a chair, couch or bed. Push down too strongly on a dog’s rump to reinforce the “sit” command or attempt to stare down a dog who seems oddly unsettled, and a warning bark may all too quickly be followed by a bite.
This response is usually directed toward strangers. Much like people, dogs are, by nature, fearful of unfamiliar and potentially threatening situations. In old cartoons and movies, it was always the postman who was at the receiving end of a bite. But, in reality, it can be anyone. Anyone the dog doesn’t know, anyone innocently “invading” a dog’s space, or anyone who seems particularly menacing. If a series of cautionary barks doesn’t fend off this perceived danger, a lunge and a bite may result.
Well-intentioned, but ill-advised attempts to break up a dogfight often cause the referee in question to be bitten. When two angry dogs are squaring off against each other, baiting, barking and air snapping, and a hand reaches in to seize a collar or a coat, either dog may suddenly whip round and lash out with his mouth at the “intruder.”
Even the sweetest and gentlest dog can -- if the pain is severe enough -- bite the hand that’s trying to help. Whether a novice owner, an experienced trainer, or a seasoned vet. Every dog has his own particular threshold and tolerance for pain. Cross it with a normally soothing touch or a tender pat of reassurance, and that nursing hand will need a doctor.
This category is reserved for people who either don’t respect a dog’s boundaries or don’t understand that every dog has his limits. Thoughtless behaviors, inconsiderate overtures, constant pestering, poking or prodding – and the perpetrator will be punished with a bite.
PROTECTION OF “PROPERTY”
Dogs chosen by families either for personal protection or for the protection of their property may find themSELVES the unwitting target of their dogs’ over-zealous guarding. Trained to defend everything of value – from the family house and car to the family itself – from outside threats, some dogs will even “protect” one family member from another by biting the one they considers a threat. Children between the ages of 5 and 9 are at greatest risk for dog bites. To minimize these risks, they should be taught to:
Report a strange dog wandering through their yard or neighborhood to an adult.
Never approach a strange dog.
Never approach an eating or sleeping dog, or a mother caring for her pups.
Never look directly into a dog's eyes.
Stand as still as a statue if approached by a strange dog.
Never scream at or run from a strange dog.
Roll into a ball and not move if knocked down by a strange dog.
Never play with a dog unless in the company of an adult.
To help reduce the incidences of dog biting:
All responsible dog owners must learn about and understand fully the complexities of canine behavior.
All responsible dog owners must obedience train and socialize their dogs – the sooner, the younger, the better.
All responsible dog owners must teach their children to respect ALL dogs, starting with the ones in their own homes.
It’s said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. In the case of dog biting, however, a little knowledge is less dangerous than no knowledge at all.
Dogs and Essential Oils
For years, certain essential oils were considered safe for dogs and were often recommended for use in treating everything from stress and ear mite infestations to upper respiratory problems.
But recently, some studies have shown that essential oils can be toxic to dogs, whether taken internally, applied to their skin or simply inhaled. The liver is the organ most negatively affected, and unlike ours, dogs’ livers lack the ability to properly metabolize the various compounds found in essential oils.
A partial list of the essential oils to be avoided includes oil of cinnamon, citrus, pennyroyal, peppermint, pine, sweet birch, tea tree (melaleuca), wintergreen and ylang ylang. If ingested or applied directly to the skin, these essential oils can damage your dog’s skin and even induce seizures.
Toxicity in dogs can either occur very quickly, following a single internal or external application or over a longer period of time -- through repeated or continuous inhalation of the essential oils. Either way, it can cause serious damage to the liver and, and in some instances, even lead to death. Should your dog accidentally ingest ANY oil, rush him to the vet immediately.
Aside from their toxic effects, the concentrated scent of essential oils can be very irritating, even overwhelming, to dogs because of their extremely sensitive noses. If you’re a dog owner who diffuses essential oils throughout your home, ensure there’s good ventilation for both your sakes, that you only diffuse small amounts for limited periods of time, and that your dog can retreat to a “scent-free” zone if the smell becomes overpowering.
Hydrosols, also known as “flower waters”, are often promoted as a more natural and safer alternative to essential oils. Less saturated or concentrated than essential oils, hydrosols are basically what remain after steam-distilling fresh leaves, fruits, flowers or herbs in water. With properties similar to essential oils, their aromas are often softer and subtler.
While hydrosols may be safer for use on human skin, they are still dangerous for dogs as the water can retain residual plant matter that can prove toxic if ingested or even inhaled. While some dogs can tolerate hydrosols, others are more sensitive to them. To be on the safe side, limit your dog’s access or exposure to them to minimize the risk of any health issues arising.
As dog owners, do you crave the feeling of your cherished canine companions’ kisses? Have you ever wondered why dogs lick faces? Should you worry about it or even stop it?
Did you know that human face licking evolved from wolf puppies’ instinctual habit of licking the mouths of adult dogs to prompt them to regurgitate partially digested food? This is the way they transitioned from suckling their mothers’ milk to eating partially digested food to eventually eating more solid food.
According to animal experts, one dog licking another dog’s face or a person’s face is
deemed normal social behavior that serves a variety of purposes. It can be an appeasing gesture that signals one dog’s deference to another or a signal to solicit more “social” information, and, where humans are concerned, it can be a sign of affection or an effort to elicit attention.
When a dog licks his doggy housemate’s face or other spots on his body, it’s usually part of their grooming ritual. If a dog’s unable to reach his owner’s face, he may, instead, lick their hand, arm or leg as a form of endearment. A dog may try to lick a stranger’s face as a way of appeasing them and ensuring that they won’t threaten or harm him. And when a dog licks a child’s face, it can be a sign of affection or simply a way of wiping off some residual food.
For most healthy children and adults, the saliva from a dog’s licks poses no risk to intact skin. For those with compromised immune systems, however, it can pose a risk of infection by allowing bacteria to enter their skin through an opened and untreated wound such as a bite or a cut.
The five most concerning forms of bacteria are:
1. Capnocytophaga Canimorsus: this organism is carried in a dog’s mouth and causes a serious sepsis infection in people.
2. Staphylococcus Aureu: when transferred to people, this staph infection can have life-threatening consequences.
3. Ringworm or hookworm: both can cause painful and itchy infections or inflammation and even intestinal bleeding depending on the point of entry.
4. E. coli: potentially fatal, symptoms range from diarrhea and cramping to nausea and, at its worst, intestinal bleeding.
5. Salmonella: painful and unpleasant, it can cause nausea and vomiting, intestinal cramping and diarrhea.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s kisses, don’t let him lick your mouth and ensure that any minor cuts and/or open wounds on your skin are properly covered. Overly cautious? Offer him the underside of your chin instead, then promptly wash your face or apply an antibacterial sanitizing spray or gel to your chin. If you prefer to have him lick your hands, wash your hands later and use that same spray or gel on them.