Like many pet owners, Ed Cornwell considers his dog, B-Bear, as part of the family. So when B-Bear was recently poisoned, Cornwell felt like he almost lost a child.
"It would have killed me," his voice cracked. "She's a lot to me."
It began when B-Bear frightened a stranger who was walking in their neighborhood.
"B-Bear saw the person, and of course, like a German Sheppard, started barking profusely at her, never got within five feet of her, and almost immediately the person started screaming at B-Bear, cussing and threatened her and threatened to kill her and said, 'I've got something for you,'" Cornwell recalled.
The next day at work he received a telephone call.
"My daughter told me B-Bear found a ham bone and within 20 minutes was throwing up," he said. "And instantly I thought about the girl from the day before."
After being rushed to the animal hospital, B-Bear tested positive for ethylene glycol, or antifreeze poisoning. Antifreeze is so poisonous, unless treated immediately, pets will die within seven hours, depending on how much of it they drank. They usually find it in driveways and in parking lots after it's leaked out of a radiator. And pets like the taste because it's sweet.
Dr. Ann Ayre of the Owl Creek Veterinary Hospital in Virginia Beach, Va., treated B-Bear.
"This was a purposeful poisoning, which isn't a very common thing. But somebody, we really believe, purposefully put this antifreeze into the ham and had her ingest it," she concluded.
Some People Food Can be Poison to Pets
Hundreds of thousands of pets are poisoned every year. Unfortunately, when their owners take them to the vet hospital, they often didn't even know that what their pet ingested was bad for them.
This happens most often with some "people" food. Many types of food humans enjoy such as grapes, avocados and onions can seriously harm pets. Also watch out for products containing xylitol, like chewing gum. Treats for humans aren't the same as treats for pets. Beware of chocolate, especially dark chocolate, which can cause heart problems and seizures.
Click here for a tip sheet on how to protect your pet as seen on Wednesday's The 700 Club.
Don't ever give any type of medicine for humans to your pet without first checking with your veterinarian. Just one Tylenol tablet will kill an average-sized cat.
"People administering other non-steroidal or painkillers to their dog, thinking well, 'If it's ok for me, it's ok for the dog,' because they've been prescribed Celebrex for arthritic pain," Dr. Ayre explained. "They think it's fine to give to the dog, and that causes immediate stomach rupture."
Items that are made to kill other animals can also kill your pet, like bug spray and rat poison. Many baits used to attract rodents are attractive to pets, too.
Many plants are also poisonous to pets, like the Lily, which is very popular at Easter and very attractive to cats. But if a cat nibbles on just a small amount it will likely die within 48 hours of irreversible kidney failure. Poinsettias are also toxic, as are Kalanchoe and Schefflera.
Although our homes are safe for us, they can be riddled with pet poisons. But with a little know-how, you can pet-proof your environment and keep your beloved furry family members around for many years to come.
*Originally published February 10, 2010.