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Poisons - Dangers in the yard

Updated: Apr 6, 2019

We get a lot of snow here in Petersfield, Manitoba, Canada and the Dobermans are not huge fans to say the least. They'll go out and potty but there have been numerous days where you can tell that they're doing everything in their power to "hold it" as simply it's just too darn cold. The good news is that where winter can be very harsh and long, it IS followed up by spring where the snow melts and gives way to beautiful spring flowers, new life, but sometimes new dangers!

Liar and Blaze "helping" with spring clean up!

About a week or so ago, with the long awaited "spring is in the air", I looked out our bedroom window into our backyard to see some interesting tracks on the snow. I remember smiling and even asking Tim to come look as the tracks were all over the place and looked like a miniature snow "crop circle". They didn't seem to have any rhyme or reason and I couldn't begin to envision what the animal was doing to create such a design. My positive thoughts immediately jumped to "spring fever" where this animal was having "zoomies" like our Dobermans frequently get.

Lets jump ahead a few days now. The temperature was around 4 Celsius outside, the sun was shining high in the sky and the wind was virtually non-existent. I watched Liar and Blaze and you could tell they were "feeling the need for some springtime speed" out in the yard. I can't say I blame them as we've all been cooped up for too long and "cabin fever" had set in.

I got dressed, put on some rubber boots, grabbed the "poopsy bags" and together we all headed out for yard play and clean up.

After some snow shoveling and ice chipping, I had cleared the path that lead from the front yard where the dogs typically potty, to the back yard so as we could enjoy both. Upon doing that, Blaze and Liar bolted with leaps and bounds into the backyard and out of site with me hot on their trails. We had an amazing time sniffing, cleaning, and to Blaze's delight, she started her "chipmunk patrol". Our "snow crop circles" had melted but sadly in the midst of where they'd been, I found a dead red squirrel which Tim scooped up quick and disposed of.

Later that night and long after returning in from our romp outside, Liar seemed "off". To say "off" I mean he wasn't outright sick, he didn't vomit, but he was drooling a bit, and he was definitely licking his lips a lot. As the evening passed, so did Liar and this "off" feeling. I documented his behavior in his journal but truthfully, it left my mind.

Two days ago, we awoke again to a gorgeous spring morning with above freezing temperatures and more snow had melted leaving just a little more yard for me to "clean". Again Liar and Blaze were anxious to head out into the yard for some play and I too shared their enthusiasm as I have always enjoyed yard work! I pulled on my rubber boots with them howling at me to "hurry up", grabbed more "poopsy bags" and we all headed out.

As was the case the day before, they both bolted to the backyard but I was a little slower to follow. As I rounded the corner, I noticed Liar sniffing something on the ground, pick it up, lip/nose curl, and spit it out. By the time I got to him, he had whatever it was in his mouth again. One thing we've always taught our dogs is the "drop it" command and fortunately as I put out my bare hand, Liar obeyed immediately. To my horror, he spit out a full block of mouse/rat poison!

HYPOTHESIS : Tim and I talked about this and we know we don't use poison. Further to that, I am constantly doing yard work and I know that poison was not in the yard when the snow came with winter. Last fall, I had raked numerous times every square inch of our yard, the poison was NOT there.

Being out in the country, we have houses in close proximity to ours but our neighbors are great, fellow dog people and also seasonal. The likelihood that someone threw it over the fence is not in our minds at all. But! Let's reflect on the last few days!

I think that red squirrel found the poison in someone else's yard (we don't use that stuff), scooped it up and was taking it to his nest. I think he ingested some which lead to his poisoning (snow crop circles) and death in our yard. In that whole process, he dropped the poison block which somehow I had missed in the yard clean up the day before. With Liar's "off" behavior on the day we found the squirrel, I do believe he found poison that day and possibly also ingested it but due to his size it wasn't a lethal amount. This is of course all a guess work on my part but I share the story as CHECK YOUR YARDS FREQUENTLY as this could have been more tragic then just the death of a squirrel!

General symptoms of poisoning (in no particular order) :

  • Oral or skin irritation

  • Upset stomach / Vomiting / Diarrhea

  • Weakness, Rapid breathing,

  • Fever

  • Drooling

  • Coma

  • Heart failure

  • Depression

  • Excitability or lethargy

  • Tremors / Seizures / Fitting

  • Increased Thirst

  • Dilated Pupils

  • Dizziness / Loss of Balance

  • Disorientation

If YOU suspect poisoning in your canine, CALL YOUR VET ASAP!!!

Share the story - it could save a life!

Karen Grzenda

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