Many people in the UK suffer from asthma and inhalers are commonly prescribed to help manage the symptoms. Inhalers vary but will mostly contain either a steroid or a drug that helps open the airways although there are a variety available and some contain both.
The steroid inhalers which are taken regularly to help prevent attacks occurring are usually brown in colour. The inhalers intended to help reduce the symptoms of an attack usually contain a drug called salbutamol and are coloured blue. One of the most common brand names is Ventolin.
Dogs may find the tough containers fun to chew on and can sometimes puncture them. Because they are pressurised containers, when punctured the drug will rush out and the inhaler may even shoot across the room! Because of this explosive release the dose of drug squirted out and eaten or inhaled can often be large – the whole inhaler’s worth.
Cats tend to be more susceptible to poisons than dogs. Fortunately, cats are normally less likely to eat something unfamiliar. If toxic exposure does occur, cats may be more at risk, as their metabolism is less able to process many toxins (acetaminophen, permethrin, and plant poisons) that are somewhat less dangerous for dogs. Be aware that cats are at high risk for ingesting contaminants on their fur, however, due to their grooming habits.
The most common sources of toxins for pets, according to the ASPCA are: prescription and over-the-counter drugs (both human and pet drugs), insecticides and insect baits, common household plants, rodenticides and baits, and common household cleaners including bleach, detergents, and disinfectants. We see all of those problems at VMC, and would also add chocolate, xylitol, and recreational drugs to the list.
If you suspect your pet ingested antifreeze, please take your pet immediately to your veterinarian for evaluation and treatment. Antifreeze toxicity is diagnosed by a history of exposure, blood work and urine tests. Ethylene glycol tests are available, but false negatives and false positives are possible. If possible, please bring the antifreeze product with you so the veterinarian can determine if the antifreeze contains ethylene glycol.
Here at VMC, poisonings and toxicities are what we deal with day in and day out. We are very comfortable handling these cases and are easily able to properly guide a pet owner through this process. While some cases are very routine and we know exactly what to do immediately, we commonly utilize the resources of Animal Poison Control. New products, drugs, and chemicals are created all the time, and so the potential toxins and combinations of toxins in common household items can change so rapidly. So can the antidotes and treatments. The ASCPA Animal Poison Control service stays current with the newest information that can make all the difference in saving a pet’s life.
Most “pet friendly” antifreeze solutions contain propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Although propylene glycol can still be toxic to your pet, it does not cause kidney damage. Ingestion of propylene glycol-containing chemicals should still prompt evaluation by a veterinarian. Signs of toxicity include the following: severe sedation, walking as if drunk, seizures, tremors, panting, pale gums, and lethargy.
Symptoms of Albuterol Toxicity in Dogs
Whether your dog is having a reaction to too much of his prescription or he got a blast from your inhaler, he’ll need a visit to the vet. The vet will run blood tests, and likely administer fluids and medication, to balance your pup’s electrolytes and counteract the albuterol’s impact. If you know your pups had more than his share of albuterol, get him to the vet immediately for care.
If your pup’s suffering from bronchitis or bronchospasm, the vet may recommend a bronchodilator to give him a breather. The Food and Drug Administration does not approve of albuterol for use in pets, but your vet can prescribe it for your dog. Albuterol in an oral form, as a syrup or tablet, is often prescribed to open bronchial airways. The oral form acts quickly, achieving its maximum effect in about two hours. It can also be administered by inhalation, supplying relief within five minutes and providing lasting help for three to six hours.
Albuterol isn’t toxic for your pup if its taken as directed by your vet. A proper dose of the drug can help him catch his breath; however, too much albuterol may cause a bad reaction. The potential response to an overdose of albuterol includes a rapid or irregular heart rate, rapid breathing, tremors, vomiting, hyperactivity, dilated pupils and hypersalivation. One of the particularly dangerous effects of albuterol toxicity is a low blood potassium level. This mineral is critical for healthy nerve and muscle function in a dog, and the drop in potassium contributes to the irregular breathing and heart rate that comes with an albuterol overdose. According to Cornell Universitys College of Veterinary Medicine, it can take as little as 30 minutes to as long as eight hours for signs of albuterol toxicity to show up in a dog.
When the smooth muscles in your dogs airways contract, his lungs have a difficult time getting air. The condition is called bronchospasm, and its often associated with asthma. Dogs don’t tend to suffer from asthma, a condition common among people and cats, but the effect of bronchospasm in a dog is the same as it is for the asthma sufferer. He may gasp, wheeze or cough, or even experience shortness of breath, gagging and fast breathing.
If your pup doesn’t have breathing challenges but you do, it’s vital to take care that he doesn’t get into your albuterol. Though it seems unlikely your dog would end up snacking on your inhaler, consider that many dogs love to chew and an inhaler may be just the right fit for his mouth. In fact, Pet Poison Helpline lists asthma inhalers as one of the top five hazardous handbag items. If your dog chews on your inhaler, he can suffer from canine albuterol toxicity. Inhalers contain concentrated doses of medication, allowing your pup to ingest massive amounts of albuterol at once, with potentially lethal consequences.