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Beware: Insecticides and Plants can be Fatal to Pets

by Steven Forman,

ZAPP Spay/Neuter Project, San Felipe

Each month the writers for Mexico Living dig deep for creative ideas that tie into the monthly theme of the upcoming issue. This month, however, is a no-brainer for me. The theme of the February issue is house and garden, and unfortunately, I have had some friends with small breed dogs and puppies who have encountered some serious health problems resulting from the ingestion of insecticides and plants here in San Felipe.

Last year, a good friend watched as her eight week old Pomeranian puppy died violently
after the dog was exposed to pesticides sprayed at her house---even though the exterminator assured her the product was safe. And just a few weeks ago, other friends had their seven pound Chihuahua mix exposed to insecticide on their property. The dog became very ill, began throwing up, became lethargic, and they thought they were going to lose her. Quick thinking took them to the vet where she was put on an IV drip so that she didn’t get too dehydrated; very
quick, smart thinking

Had they not done that, she probably would have died. It was touch and go for five or
six days, and during that period, no matter what they fed her, she threw it up. Now, this is a dog that has had all her shots, so we knew we weren’t dealing with Parvo or Distemper, which are
usually fatal diseases in puppies and small dogs under four pounds. After lots of intravenous fluids, electrolytes and Nutri-Cal, a hi-calorie, thick toothpaste type product that comes in a tube, she began to round the corner and survived.

She is back to normal now, but I assure you, that this is the exception to the rule. Dogs, puppies and kittens that are most vulnerable, are often very small, with very tiny young immune systems that absolutely do not tolerate toxins, such as insecticides and some very popular, innocent looking plants.

Be especially careful before you decide to spray your house, or hire an exterminator. Do some research, check the internet, find out what the active ingredients are in the product you or your exterminator is using. Your precious animals are extremely vulnerable, and I promise
you, when living in another country like Mexico, we need to do the due diligence, and be responsible for our choices, no matter what anyone tells you.

Dr. Steven Hansen, veterinary toxicologist and ASPCA Senior Vice President, has done the research, and here is a list of plants that are the most common and potentially dangerous to your pets. Lilies, Sago Palm, Tulip/Narcissus bulbs, Azalea/Rhododendron, Oleander, Castor Bean, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Yew, Amaryllis, Autumn Crocus, Chrysanthemum, English Ivy, Peace Lily (AKA Mauna Loa Peace Lily), Pothos and Schefflera.

This list might shed some light on why your small dogs experience gastric problems, diarrhea and vomiting from time to time, with no rhyme or reason. Although not fatal, these symptoms might very well be related to these plants and most importantly to dangerous insecticides. Remember, small breeds, and young puppies and kittens are especially vulnerable. Contact ZAPP at, or

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