Sunday, May 15, 2011

Trash Talk

We're becoming quite the connoisseurs of trash collection. I found the pictured beach buggy in a "free" pile by the side of the road and Jan came up with the idea of re-using heavy duty garbage bags in it. This shot is of Grigri and me setting off to clean Craigville Beach Road between Magnolia and Greeley. We don't usually take on cleaning the main roads but focus on the beaches and trails - there's just too much trash for us to carry - but this is our neighborhood and we wanted to give it a spring cleaning so between the rain drops we did the best we could on this mild spring afternoon.

As we worked I was reminded of our last dog, Queenie, who was a terrible trash dog and suffered from pancreatitis more than once after getting into a trash can. Although dogs seem miraculously able to ingest almost anything, in reality there are a lot of agents that can cause illness and death. Be careful what you discard, especially if your baby likes to investigate the garbage, and check out the ASPCA's list of 2010's Top 10 toxic substances that generated calls to their poison center:

Human Medications: Poisonings by our human meds topped the ASPCA's list, with over the counter pain remedies playing a major role. Don't give your dog any human pain pill without checking with your vet and if you drop a pill on the ground, make sure you find it before your dog does. Ibuprofen (Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) are both toxic to dogs.

Insecticides: These are ubiquitous around our homes so always be careful. One common problem is using flea control products on cats that are not safe for them. Check labels and make sure the product you're using is safe for kitties.

Mice/Rat Baits: This are highly attractive to cats and dogs. Even if you place them where your beloved pets can't reach them, the mice and rats can carry partly eaten bait into accessible areas. Make sure you keep bait and pets apart.

People Food: Did you know grapes, raisins, onions and garlic can make pets sick if enough is ingested? This doesn't mean that a bite of spaghetti sauce with a few onions in it is going to kill Fifi, but I can certainly visualize situations in which Queenie could have made herself sick getting into these foods if left unguarded.

Vet Meds: These are often made to taste good, so if your furry friend gets access he or she may eat more than one dose. Keep these items out of reach and contact your vet in a hurry if Fido eats the whole bottle.

Chocolate: I never used to believe that chocolate was toxic to dogs because my parents used to feed it to our poodles regularly, but this risk has been documented extensively, so beware. The darker the chocolate the more Methylxanthines it contains, which is the dangerous ingredient. Maybe my folks were just cheap and were handing out something with very little actual chocolate in it. Give your poodles a pet treat instead.

Household Toxins: Cleaners are perhaps an obvious risk, but also keep an eye on where your batteries and liquid potpourri are stored. What is liquid potpourri anyway? Doesn't sound like something I'd want around the house!

Plants: Both indoor and outdoor plants can be poisonous. Check the ASPCA's list of toxic plants out.

Herbicides: Apparently they taste salty. Who knew? Keep pets off treated areas until they are dry.

Other Outdoor Toxins: Antifreeze, ice melt products, fertilizers and many more products used around the house and garden are big trouble. Queenie would have eaten any of these and may not have lived to tell the tale.

Keep your trash secure and the poison control number handy - (888) 426-4435 (a $65 consultation fee can be paid by credit card) If you have litter in the car, by all means keep it away from Fluffy, but please don't throw it out the window either. We already have our hands full cleaning Cape Cod.

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