What do you think are the most common pet poisonings? Rat poison?
Insecticides? The Pet Poison Hotline publishes a list of most common poisonings
reported in dogs and cats - many of these items are non-toxic to humans but can
be deadly to fur babies. In this month’s post, we’ll be taking a look at some of the
dangers lurking in your home and how to best to protect your pet kids.
Chocolate: Dark equals dangerous! For dogs, chocolate toxicity can lead to
seizures, vomiting, diarrhea and coma. In extreme dosages, chocolate poisoning
can even prove fatal. Baking chocolate and dark chocolate are the most deadly.
Xylitol: This common sugar substitute is found in sugar-free gums, candies
and many other foods. What many don’t know is that it’s not uncommon in some
medications and nasal sprays. Xylitol is toxic to dogs, not cats, and can cause
low blood sugar and liver failure.
Over-the-counter medications: Ibuprofen, naproxen and acetaminophen cause
gastric ulcers in both dogs and cats. Acetaminophen can even lead to anemia in
cats. Cough and cold medications that contain phenylephrine, pseudoephedrine or
acetaminophen are also dangerous, as these medications are often formulated in
tasty liquids pet kids find irresistible. Never give these medications to your
fur kids. Keep them in a high cabinet, well out of reach of pets.
Prescription drugs: ADD and ADHD medications can cause tremors, seizures,
heart problems and even death in companion animals. Felines are highly sensitive
to antidepressant medications. Cymbalta and Effexor, among others, can cause
severe neurological and heart problems.
Rodenticides: Rat poison is just as deadly for dogs as it is for rodents. To
make matters worse, dogs love the flavor of the bait. These toxic substances
cause fatal internal bleeding and brain swelling.
Grapes or Raisins: While harmless to humans, grapes and raisins contain a
substance that can lead to canine kidney failure. The exact source of the
problem remains a mystery to veterinary experts.
Oxygen Absorbers: You know those little freshness packets in jerky treats?
That’s an oxygen absorber, included to keep foods and treats fresh. Oftentimes,
they contain iron, which can be poisonous to pets. Whatever you do, don’t let
your fur kids ingest these little packets!
Flea products for dogs are toxic to cats! These products often contain
pyrethrins, which can cause feline seizures and tremors. If it says ‘for canine
use only’, take that warning to heart!
Household Plants: Lilies are the number one source of toxicity reported in
cats. These beautiful house plants cause kitty kidney failure. A good rule of
thumb … if you have a cat, don’t keep lilies in your house (or your yard, for
that matter). Lilies aren’t the only plants with the potential for harm -
philodendrons and pothos can cause oral ulcers and foaming at the mouth.
What to do if your companion animal is poisoned …
1. Take a deep breath and try to remain calm.
2. Remove your companion animal from the area where the poisoning occurred.
3. Make sure your pet kid is breathing and behaving normally. If not, go
immediately to the emergency clinic.
4. Contain the poisonous material, preventing additional exposure. Obtain a
sample of the questionable material, store in a plastic baggy for preservation
and ease of transport. The more evidence you can supply your veterinarian, the
more easily they’ll be able to diagnose the problem, and solution.
5. Don’t just hope things will improve on their own … go to a vet for immediate
assistance. Call your vet’s office for guidance prior to your visit, or contact
the 24-hour Pet Poison Hotline at 800-213-6680 ($35 fee). Make sure to save
these numbers on your phone now, so you won’t have to scramble for the numbers
later. Do not induce vomiting without the advice of a veterinarian and never
give your pet oil, milk, food, salt or anything orally without talking to a
The prognoses for poisoning are better the sooner it’s reported, so never
hesitate to get help as soon as possible. There is a narrow window of time to
neutralize most poisons. Immediate treatment could save your pet’s life!
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.
Dr. Jane Bicks