The Hazards in your Purse and Pockets

Most people don’t give a lot of thought to what they put into their purse or pockets before rushing  off to a busy day of work or other activities. Keys, chewing gum, medication, grocery list – it’s grab and go! When you return home and set your open handbag down, or forget to empty out your pockets before leaving your clothes lying around, then your pet can get into serious mischief.

Here are the five most common items found in purses or pockets that are toxic to pets:

1. Sugarless chewing gum and breath mints

Chewing gum, if ingested by a dog, can be fatal. Most sugarless gums, including some Trident, Orbit, and Ice Breaker brands, contain xylitol, a sweetener that is toxic to dogs. Some sugarless mints and flavored multi-vitamins may also contain xylitol.

When ingested, even small amounts of xylitol can result in a life-threatening and rapid drop in blood sugar, and if large amounts are ingested, dogs can suffer from severe liver failure. Signs of xylitol poisoning include vomiting, weakness, difficulty walking, collapse, tremors, and seizures.

2. Cigarettes

As few as three cigarettes can be fatal to a small dog or cat depending on the strength of the nicotine in the cigarettes.

After ingestion, clinical signs of distress can become apparent in as little as 15 minutes. Cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and even gum (Nicorette) contain nicotine, which is toxic to dogs and cats. Exposure causes high heart and respiratory rates, neurological overstimulation, uncontrolled urination, defecation, tremors, seizures, paralysis, and death.

3. Asthma inhalers (albuterol)

While asthma inhalers are often used in veterinary medicine for cats and dogs, when accidentally chewed and punctured by dogs, they can cause severe, life-threatening, acute poisoning. Because inhalers often contain concentrated doses of beta-agonist drugs (e.g., albuterol) or steroids (e.g., fluticasone), dogs that bite into them are exposed to massive amounts of the drugs all at once. This can lead to severe poisoning, resulting in life-threatening heart arrhythmias, agitation, vomiting, and collapse.

4. Human medications

Pill bottles and dispensers can be irresistible to some pets because they resemble toys that rattle. Common drugs including NSAIDs (e.g., Advil, Aleve, and Motrin), acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol), and antidepressants (e.g., Effexor, Cymbalta, and Prozac) can cause serious harm to dogs and cats when ingested.

NSAIDs can cause stomach and intestinal ulcers as well as kidney failure, especially in cats. A single Tylenol tablet containing acetaminophen can be fatal to cats, and in dogs, a larger ingestion can lead to severe liver failure.

Antidepressants can cause neurological problems like sedation, agitation, tremors, and seizures.

5. Hand Sanitizer

Many hand sanitizers claim to kill almost 100 percent of germs. This is possible because they contain high amounts of alcohol (ethanol)—sometimes up to 95 percent. Therefore, when a dog ingests a small bottle of hand sanitizer, it can have the same effect as a shot of hard liquor. This can cause a severe drop in blood sugar, a drop in body temperature, neurological depression, coma, and death.

The good news is that it is easy to protect your pet from these poison hazards! Store your handbags and backpacks out of reach and when emptying your pockets, place hazardous items in a place your pets can’t access.

Information in this article was collected from: