A cautionary tail for Bring Your Dog to Work Day

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In this latest installment of Pet Poison Helpline’s Toxin Tails, one teacher was taught a lesson on toxin lurking in the workplace

June 21 marks Bring Your Dog to Work Day for workplaces across the country. When it comes to dogs in the workplace, they can help relieve stress, save pet parents costs on daily pet care, and even develop new professional relationships within the workplace. On the employer side, it can help improve employee morale as well as retention and hiring of employees. However, although the benefits for the humans in the workplace are there, there can be toxins within offices that poise a major danger to pets.

“Before you walk Fido through your office doors, however, be sure you’re prepared. Just as you do at home, you need to pet-proof your office location and surroundings and keep a very close eye on your pet at all times. It’s very easy to get distracted by a phone call or while on the computer, and not notice they’ve gotten into something or wandered off,” Renee Schmid, DVM, DABT, DABVT, senior veterinary toxicologist and director of Veterinary Medicine at Pet Poison Helpline, said in an organizational release.1

Unlike most workplaces, Sara Reeves is able to bring Pippa, her basset hound, to work almost every day, serving as a high school veterinary science teacher in Milton, Georgia, a 45 minute drive from Atlanta. According to the release, Pippa being in the classroom is part of her students education because they are all working to gain the knowledge and tangible skills to go on to become a veterinary technician as they work toward becoming a veterinary, or a different profession within the industry.

Pippa the basset hound (images courtesy of Pet Poison Helpline)

Pippa the basset hound (images courtesy of Pet Poison Helpline)

However, Reeves shared that although there are benefits to having Pippa in the classroom, it can cause some anxiety as well because she needs to make sure Pippa is not getting herself into any trouble. Reeves shared that Pippa, who is not a major fan of her kennel, tends to stick by Reeves. One day, Pippa followed her into the bathroom and while she was in the stall, she heard Pippa begin to drink out of the toilet next to her. Reeves noticed that the toilet bowls within the restroom had blue water in them because they had recently been cleaned.

After giving herself a second to freak out, her veterinary science teacher knowledge kicked in and she knew she needed to get Pippa help immediately. She called Pet Poison Helpline before heading to the hospital, giving the toxicologist team the time to create a treatment plan as Reeves transported Pippa to the hospital.

“Once at Veterinary Emergency Group in Alpharetta, Georgia, Reeves gave the hospital team her Pet Poison Helpline case number, which provides both the pet owner and hospital staff with unlimited consultations with our toxicology team,” explained Schmid.

“The industrial toilet cleaner Pippa drank contained alkalis, which can cause significant damage to tissue. Fortunately, we determined that the concentration of chemicals in the toilet water was not enough to cause corrosive injury, so Pippa was given an anti-emetic and other gastrointestinal protectants, was encouraged to drink water to dilute what was in her system and sent home to recuperate,” she continued.1

According to the release,1 exposure to alkalis can cause a range of symptoms from mild tissue irritation to severe corrosive or caustic injury, with the severity varying based on the concentration within the product. If there is a significant exposure, perforations to the esophagus and gastrointestinal tract (GI) which can be fatal for the pet.

Alkalis chemicals can be found in industrial cleaners, wet cement, and industrial pipe and drain cleaners. However, they can also be found in multiple household products like automatic dishwasher detergent, bleach, drain cleaners, hair relaxer, lye, and oven cleaners.2 Alkalis poisoning treatments include immediate decontamination by flushing out the exposed area with copious amounts of water, medications to protect the GI tract, fluid therapy, and symptomatic and supportive care.

“When taking your dog or other pet to work, be just as vigilant about potential dangers as you would be at home or on a trip. Also, think about how your pet will interact with your coworkers. For example, if your pet has a special diet or allergies, be sure and share that with your coworkers so they don’t give them any unapproved treats,” said Schmid.

“If your pet has behavioral issues such as anxiety in unfamiliar or busy places, consider whether they will be comfortable in the workplace or better kept in a quiet home environment. Also, if your pet is scared around strangers and has a tendency to snap at well-meaning admirers, keeping your pet home is ideal to avoid potential injury to your co-workers,” she concluded.

All the subjects featured in Toxin Tails have been successfully treated and fully recovered from the poisoning, including Pippa.

References

  1. Protecting Your Coworkers When They’re Animals – Literally. News release. Pet Poison Helpline. June 19, 2024. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/protecting-your-coworkers-when-theyre-animals---literally-302176112.html
  2. Alkalis. Pet Poison Helpline. Published 2015. Accessed June 19, 2024. https://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/alkalis/
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