Mr. Yuk in Nature

Mr. Yuk in Nature

Mr. Yuk in Nature

We all grew up with the “Mr. Yuk” stickers to identify poisons in our homes, but I never gave much thought to things in nature that may make us sick or that may be poisonous to us.  I had an experience this summer, so I thought I would share what I learned in hopes it may help someone else.

We have two huskies, and like any other dog, they patrol the yard and keep it safe.  They are also very playful and mischievous.  One day this summer our older dog (age three) had an eventful day.  He was looking for his bugs and investigating when he found a toad.  Of course, he played with the toad, carried it in his mouth, and played keep-away from the other dog (and us).  Once the toad protected itself by secreting, our dog dropped it.  He immediately found something else, put it in his mouth, and the “catch me if you can” game began again.  When we were finally able to catch him to determine what he had, we found a buckeye which he had bitten to keep us from getting it from him.  We didn’t think anything of it until about  20-30 minutes later when our dog did not look so good.  He was shaking his head and trying to rub his face and mouth on the furniture as if he was trying to get something off his face.  He was no longer playing and visibly looked sick.  You could tell something wasn’t quite right.  He literally went from running and jumping in the yard to being listless and not wanting to move.  He then began vomiting – and it was a lot.  We immediately started doing our own research of course because that is what we all do with the technology we now have.  We discovered that not only are certain toads poisonous to dogs, but buckeyes are also poisonous to dogs.  We tried calling our vet, but it was after working hours so they weren’t in the office.

We weren’t really sure whether to take him to an urgent care facility, so I called the facility that our vet recommended on his answering service.  While providing the history to the urgent care facility, she immediately gave me the number for animal poison control.  I called animal poison control, and the woman I spoke with was extremely helpful.  She not only provided me with the information I urgently needed to make the decision whether our dog needed to be seen at an urgent care facility, but she also took the time to do research to provide me with detailed information.  I learned that the poisonous toads that would be life threatening to dogs are not prevalent in our area (West Virginia); but obviously a toad’s secretion is not a pleasant taste and will cause foaming of the mouth.  It could also cause nausea and vomiting, but that would occur instantly.  So, that wasn’t what we were dealing with.

Then came the research on the buckeyes.  Buckeyes are also known as “horse chestnuts” which are poisonous to dogs.  The level of poison that enters the body is determined by the size and weight of a dog (kind of like grapes) – the smaller the dog, the less it takes to make it a very serious situation.  Poison control not only provides you with the information as to whether the item is poisonous, they also tell you whether you can monitor your pet at home or whether your pet should immediately be seen by a vet.  Based on the information I was able to provide (the weight of our dog and the amount of the buckeye that he appeared to ingest), it was determined that our dog did not need to be immediately seen and we could monitor him at home; but of course, if anything changed, then we would need to get him to a vet immediately.

It was a very long night staying up with him and monitoring him, but thank God that after he vomited a few times to get the poison out of his belly, he started to improve.  He was tired the next day and didn’t have much of an appetite, but seemed to return to normal after day 2.

So, needless to say, my neighbor helped me cut down the buckeye trees.  Thank you, again!

I never thought that something I grew up with, a tree in nature, could be poisonous to dogs or humans.  I collected those buckeyes as a child, so I guess it’s a good thing I never tried to eat one!

So, if you are a pet owner and have room on your refrigerator, that would be a great place to have the number for poison control.