Spring toxin 6: Fertilizers

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Apr 08, 2010
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Spring toxin 6: Fertilizers
While fertilizers aren't plants, people growing spring flowers often keep fertilizers nearby. Ingesting most fertilizers only causes minor gastrointestinal irritation. But some fertilizers can be fatal to pets that eat them if the pets aren't treated. Let your clients know that it's best to keep all lawn products in labeled, tightly sealed containers that are out of pets' reach. This is especially true for these more dangerous fertilizers:

Blood meal. This is dried, ground, and flash-frozen blood that contains 12 percent nitrogen. If eaten, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and, most importantly, severe inflammation of the pancreas. Some types of blood meal are also fortified with iron, which, when eaten by pets, could result in iron toxicity.

Bone meal. This is made up of defatted, dried, and flash-frozen animal bones that are ground to a powder. The “bone” is very palatable to dogs, and they should be prevented from digging in and ingesting the soil where bone meal has been applied. If consumed in high amounts, bone meal can form a large, cement-like, bowling ball-size mass in a dog's stomach, causing an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract that may require surgery.

Rose and plant fertilizers. Some of these fertilizers contain disulfoton or other types of organophosphates. As little as one teaspoon of 1 percent disulfoton can kill a 55-pound dog. Organophosphates, while less commonly used, can cause severe symptoms, such as salivation, lacrimation, urination, defecation, seizures, difficulty breathing, and hyperthermia. Ingestion can even be fatal to some pets.

Pesticides and insecticides. Most of these are not usually a huge concern for pets unless a cat's or dog's symptoms persist. Some pesticides and insecticides, though, may contain a dangerous organophosphate. Therefore, it's best for pet owners to play it safe with all these products.

Iron. Commonly added to fertilizers, elemental iron can cause iron toxicity when ingested by by pets. This is different from “total” iron ingestion, and can be hard to differentiate. Large ingestions can result in vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and potential cardiac and liver effects.

 
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Pet Poison Helpline is a service available 24 hours, seven days a week for pet owners and veterinary team members who require assistance treating a potentially poisoned pet and can provide treatment advice for poisoning cases of all species, including dogs, cats, birds, small mammals, large animals, and exotic species. As the most cost-effective option for animal poison control care, Pet Poison Helpline’s fee of $35 per incident includes follow-up consultation for the duration of the poisoning case. It is available in North America by calling 800-213-6680. Additional information can be found online at petpoisonhelpline.com.