In cold weather, many people use hand warmers that are filled with chemicals to keep warm when playing or working outside. Many of those people who are pet owners fail to realize that iron is included in most hand warmers. The iron can be toxic to pets.
As winter approaches and cold weather sets in, experts in toxicology at Pet Poison Helpline are advising pet owners to be aware of the dangers that hard warmers can present to their pets.
They should not leave them lying around where pets can get hold of them.
As an example, the organization relates the story of Buoy, a Border Collie puppy who lives with the Smith family in Anchorage. The story tells how he survived an encounter with a packet containing a hand warmer that had been discarded.
Jaime Smith’s two children and their friends in the neighborhood were playing outside with Buoy, the Helpline says. After a short while they went back into the house as the weather had become colder.
When they returned, the children asked for help to open their packages containing hard warmers. They went into the backyard again and continued to play with the puppy.
Began to vomitRead More »
The Smith children showed their parents the remains of the hand warmer packaging that they had opened and that they had discarded in the trash. The Smiths spoke with the neighbors who said one of their children had left a hand warmer in the Smiths’ yard.
Further investigation showed the remains of the warmer on the playhouse.
It soon became clear that Buoy had torn the hand warmer open and had eaten some of the contents of the warmer. The Smiths called Pet Poison Helpline.
The puppy was lucky that the Smiths realized not only that Buoy had eaten the contents of the hand warmer, but also that they knew to call the experts in toxicology for advice, says Ahna Brutlag, who is a veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. She explains that eating the iron that is contained in hand warmers might cause not only vomiting, but also ulceration in the gastro-intestinal tract, liver injury, and shock. In addition, it can damage the cardiovascular system.
As soon as the experts identified the chemicals that are in the hand warmers the children had been using, they recommended that Buoy be taken to the closest emergency hospital, Brutlag adds.
When the Smiths arrived with Buoy at the PET Emergency Treatment in Anchorage, which offers around-the-clock treatment for pets, the team from the Helpline advised that an evaluation be immediately undertaken for diagnostics, decontamination, and supportive care.
A radiograph taken of Buoy showed that a large amount of the iron was still present in his gastro-intestinal tract, including the large and small intestines as well as the stomach.
The puppy was fed intravenously and given Milk of Magnesia to reduce the absorption of iron from the gastro-intestinal tract. He was also given medication that would protect his gastro-intestinal tract which he would need to be given for a week.
Buoy was kept in the hospital for a night, but because the ingestion of the iron had been caught early he became better fairly soon. The experience is one of many cases of poisoning that is handled by the Pet Poison Helpline, which hopes that this case will help pet owners understand that they need to be careful how they handle hand warmers around pets
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