Many of the products we use or items found in our homes can be poisonous to our pets. Sadly, we often see cats and dogs that have become ill after coming into contact with or eating something toxic, so we’ve produced this checklist to help you keep your pet out of harm’s way.
The symptoms for each poison can vary according to the amount ingested and the individual pet. However, as a general guide, if you notice your pet behaving in a way that is out of the ordinary, or if you have any concerns about their wellbeing, please get in touch with us immediately and retain any packaging from suspected items or samples of the items eaten where appropriate.
|Acorns||Can cause kidney damage.|
|Antifreeze||Its sweet taste is appealing for pets to drink, but it causes kidney failure in cats.|
|Batteries||Most batteries contain strong acids or alkalis, and many also have a significant metal content. Ingestion of batteries may result in severe chemical burns to the mouth, throat and stomach, severely impairing breathing and swallowing. If possible, make your vet aware of the type of battery or the battery code.|
|Benzalkonium Chloride||This type of detergent is found in many household products, cleaners, antiseptics, cats can fever, mouth ulceration and drooling.|
|Blue-green algae||Found in fresh, mixed and saltwater throughout the UK, ingestion can result in rapid death.|
|Bread dough||Dogs who eat this whilst still in the rising process can experience stomach blockage.|
|Chocolate||Theobromine is a common ingredient in chocolate and is poisonous to dogs. The amount varies depending on the quality and type of chocolate. A relatively small amount of dark chocolate can cause agitation, hyperexcitability, tremors, convulsions and problems with the heart, which can be fatal.|
|Coffee/Cocoa||Theobromine is a common ingredient in chocolate and is poisonous to dogs. The amount varies depending on the quality and type of chocolate. A relatively small amount of dark chocolate can cause agitation, hyperexcitability, tremors, convulsions and problems with the heart, which can be fatal.|
|Common Toad||Causes excess salivation and distress if licked or picked up by dogs.|
|Daffodils||The Flower, the bulb and even the water from the vase they have been kept in can be toxic to pets.|
|Grapes/Raisins||Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal problems leading to acute kidney failure in dogs. Most commonly, vomiting is observed first, followed by diarrhoea, lethargy, tremors and abdominal pain. However, the amounts required to cause harm can vary enormously from animal to animal – even one grape can cause problems.|
|Ivy||Dogs and cats that eat ivy (Hedera helix) commonly develop hypersalivation, vomiting or diarrhoea. However, it can cause more serious effects in rabbits and may even result in fatalities.|
|Lillies||Extremely toxic to cats (even licking the pollen if it gets stuck in the fur) can quickly cause fatal kidney problems.|
|Mushrooms||May type of fungi can cause liver and kidney poisoning, and symptoms can enormously – identifying the particular variety (and therefore determining correct treatment) can only be accurately done with a sample of the fungus eaten. So please bring one in if possible.|
|NSAIDs||Non- steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs – or human Painkillers, such as diclofenac and carprofen; Ibuprofen is particularly poisonous to dogs and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach ulceration and kidney failure.|
|Onions and Garlic||Both cats and dogs are highly susceptible to onion poisoning, and it only takes a small amount to cause serious problems. Therefore avoid feeding your pet any food that may have onions in it, such as gravy, stuffing etc.|
|Paracetamol||Some animals are very sensitive to paracetamol, and even very small amounts can be extremely harmful.|
|Permethrin||An insecticide commonly found in many non-prescription flea treatments available from pet shops and supermarkets. Cats are very sensitive to permethrin, and even a normal dose for a dog can be fatal to a cat.|
|Mice/rat poison||Exposure can cause excessive bruising or bleeding, although these may not appear for several days. Not all rodenticides are anticoagulants, and therefore it is always important to determine which type of rodent poison the animal has ingested.|
|Rhubarb||All parts of the plant can be irritant and poisonous when eaten raw. Common signs of rhubarb poisoning include irritation of the mouth, loss of appetite, lethargy, diarrhoea and dehydration.|
|Slug Bait||These blue or green pellets are often eaten by inquisitive dogs and can cause convulsions. Metaldehyde poisoning often results in hospitalisation for several days.|
|Xylitol (E967)||Used as an artificial sweetener, it is frequently found in sugar-free chewing gums and sweets. Unfortunately, Xylitol is extremely harmful to dogs and may cause low blood sugar and liver damage.|
|Weedkiller||Extremely toxic, often there is no cure.|
Whilst this seems like a long list of possible hazards, with common sense and a watchful eye, you can usually keep your pet well away from harm, and not all animals will be affected in the same way by exposure to these substances.
Of course, as naturally curious animals, cats, dogs, and rabbits can occasionally get themselves into trouble. So we’re always happy to advise and reassure you if you’re at all worried about something potentially harmful that your pet may have come into contact with.
Please do ring us if you are at all concerned.
The list of poisons to our pets are too many to list; the above are the common ones, but there are many more. Also, household plants and some garden plants and weeds are poisonous. So try to be aware of what plants and garden plants/weeds you have if one of your pets decides to have a nibble on them.
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VIPS) is an independent 24-hour telephone emergency service providing information on managing actual and suspected poisoning in animals.
Animal poisons helpline: 01202 509 000*
*There is a small fee for this service