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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 20 June 2009 Issue

Veterinarians Caution Pet Owners About Dangers Lurking In Home

MIAMI -- While our homes are typically considered safe havens, they can also be full of potential danger, especially for our pets.

"We see several incidents every week," said Dr. Juan Sardinas of Miami Veterinary Specialists.

Last week, an 8-year-old mixed-breed named Diamond came into the practice with an alarming injury.

"She had licked a paper shredder in the house that was set on automatic," said Dr. Marc Wosar.

The shredder grabbed onto Diamond's tongue and pulled it deeper into the sharp blades.

"I think it's a big potential risk in the house," said Sardinas.

Fortunately Diamond's owners were home and responded quickly.

They disconnected the head of the shredder and carried it, with the dog's tongue still stuck inside, to Miami Veterinary Specialists.

"We anesthetized her first, then reversed the shredder off the tongue and assessed the damage," said Wosar. "There were a lot of lacerations to the tongue as well as a lot of bite wounds. In her panic, she'd also bitten her tongue."

It took over a hundred stitches to repair Diamond's tongue. A portion that was too severely damaged had to be removed, but doctors expect her to make a full recovery.

"She just won't have a perfectly round tongue. She'll have a little nick in it," said Wosar.

Veterinarians said what happened to Diamond is shocking but not surprising.

"By nature, dogs and cats like to lick things," said Wosar.

In the case of a paper shredder, experts said animals could be attracted by the smell of the metal, or perhaps the scent of the owner's own hands from touching the machine.

Just two months ago, a veterinary journal documented a similar incident involving a dog in Virginia.

When it comes to protecting your pets from a paper shredder, veterinarians said the solution is simple.

"The best thing to do is really not even turn off the shredder, just unplug it," said Wosar.

Many other objects in and around the home can also be dangerous to pets.

"Snail bait, which many people use this time of year, is highly toxic to dogs and they like to eat it," warned Sardinas.

String, yarn and small objects can cause fatal obstructions in cats.

Household plants are also often toxic. "Typically dogs aren't interested in these but cats are," said Sardinas.

Dogs may also eat clothing left lying around, which can lead to life threatening blockages in the abdomen and bowel.

Puppies are often attracted to electrical cords, often with deadly consequences.

"We don't want people to live in fear but they need to be aware," said Sardinas.

Veterinarians recommend confining or crating animals when you're not home to keep them away from anything that might cause harm.

Miami News Barbara A. Besteni, Managing Editor

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