Posts Tagged ‘human health’

We’ve been talking lately about pet poison emergencies. But did you know that in some cases, your pet’s emergency can become a health hazard for you, too?

Your pet can become seriously ill if he ingests a certain type of rodenticide – but now comes word that what your pet eats can have serious consequences for you, too.

As reported in the June 2012 edition of DVM Newsmagazine, a particular ingredient in some rodenticides, known as zinc phosphide, can form a toxic gas when combined with stomach acids or water. The trouble for pet owners and veterinary staff begins when the pet vomits, releasing the newly formed gas phosphine.

Staff members at several veterinary clinics in the U.S. have been sickened as a result of dogs vomiting the rodenticide and releasing phosphine gas. Reported symptoms in people included headaches, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, dizziness, and nausea.

Other symptoms of phosphine poisoning in both people and animals include vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, even death.

Phosphine gas may smell like garlic or rotting fish, but it can be dangerous even when no odor is detected at all.

There are steps you can take to protect yourself and your pets:

*Never leave insect or rodent bait where your pets can reach them.
*If you set out bait, keep the portion of the label that lists the ingredients and emergency phone numbers. This information can assist in the treatment of a pet or person exposed to the poison.
*If you believe your pet has ingested the rodenticide, call Pet Poison Helpline at 1-855-764-7661 for emergency assistance and instructions.
*Do not give food or liquids to your pet if it has ingested zinc phosphide, since the resulting stomach acids can produce more phosphine gas.
*Do not induce vomiting if you suspect your pet has eaten zinc phosphide. Always wait for instructions from medical personnel.
*Take your pet to the nearest veterinary emergency hospital. Open the car windows so the vehicle is well-ventilated if the pet throws up in the car.
*If your pet vomits indoors, immediately ventilate the area and leave until you have been given further instructions by a medical professional. If necessary, contact the Fire Department for HAZMAT response, or contact Poison Control (for human exposure) at 1-800-222-1222 for cleanup instructions.
*Phosphine gas is heavy and will sink to the ground. Therefore, stay above the animal’s level, to reduce your exposure.
*If you believe you have been exposed to phosphine gas, seek medical help immediately. 

The list of rodenticides with zinc phosphide as the main ingredient includes:
Arrex, Denkarin Grains, Gopha-Rid, Phosvin, Pollux, Ridall, Ratol, Rodenticide AG, Zinc-Tox and ZP.

As other products enter the marketplace, this list may change. Always read ingredients and warning labels on rodenticides.


Resources for this article:
The American Veterinary Medical Association
DVM Newsmagazine, June 2012 
National Pesticide Information Center 

This post originally appeared on June 15, 2012.

Read Full Post »

82° F today?  Summer weather is here, folks – so it’s time to get outdoors and get moving.

With the warm-up upon us, pet owners will be taking advantage of the season to go camping, hiking, swimming, and playing in the backyard with their dogs.  But they’re not the only ones out in force — wild animals will be enjoying the weather, too.  The problem is, wildlife can leave behind a bacterium called Leptospirosis, which infects both people and their pets.

This raccoon may be carrying Leptospirosis - a bacteria dangerous to people and pets.

This raccoon may be carrying Leptospirosis – a bacteria dangerous to people and pets.


Found in:  Water, soil, mud, and food contaminated with animal urine.  Flood water is especially hazardous.  Also found in an infected animal’s tissues and bodily fluids such as blood and urine.

Host animals:  Raccoons, squirrels, opossums, deer, skunks, rodents, livestock, dogs, and rarely in cats.

Points of entry:  Cut or scratch on the skin; mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, mouth; inhaling aerosolized fluids.  Drinking contaminated water; exposure to flood water.

Symptoms in people:  Fever, headache, chills, muscle aches, jaundice, vomiting, rash, anemia, meningitis.  Some people show no symptoms.

Symptoms in pets:  Fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weakness, depression, stiffness, muscle pain.  Some pets show no symptoms.  The disease can be fatal in pets.

When will it show up in my pet:  Between 5-14 days post-exposure, although in some cases it may take up to 30 days.

Gravity:  In people, Lepto infection can lead to kidney and liver failure, and death if left untreated.

Who is at risk:  Campers, water sportsmen, farmers, military, to name a few.


  • Vaccinate dogs annually for Leptospirosis
  • Don’t allow dogs to drink from puddles, streams, lakes, or other water that may be contaminated by animal urine
  • Don’t swim in water that may be contaminated by animal urine
  • Wear shoes when outdoors
  • Keep dogs out of children’s play areas
  • Control rodents around your home and yard

Resources:  Visit the CDC website for comprehensive information on Leptospirosis in people and pets.  Print your own Lepto fact sheet, or send us a message using the contact form, and we’ll print one for you.

This article originally posted on July 8, 2011.

Photo credit: D. Gordon E. Robertson, via Wikimedia Commons.

Read Full Post »