posted on 17 March 2018

Toxicity happens!

Our beloved four legged companions are curious beings and do not hesitate ingesting unknown, toxic products and plants when an opertune time arises. The majority of intoxication's occur at home. It is important that pet owners remain vigilant at all times and limit access to potentially toxic products for their animals. If you are wondering what can be toxic for your pet, here are some examples of certain products, drugs and plants that could be fatal for your pet.


In your pharmacy 

Dogs and cats are made physiologically different to us humans. Their metabolism differs greatly from ours. This is why many human drugs are toxic to animals and why it is important to contact your veterinarian for any care concerning your pet before administering any human drug. For example, Acetaminophen found in Tylenol® can quickly cause damage to the liver and blood cells. This medication should never be given to a dog or cat, even at a low dose. Human anti-inflammatories such as Aspirine®, Motrin®, Advil® and Naproxen® can cause severe digestive toxicity, anemia, kidney failure, and abdominal pain when given in a moderate to high dose. These drugs are never to be prescribed to your pet without the consent of your veterinarian. Decongestant medications such as pseudoephedrine (Advil cold and sinus®, NyQuil®, Sudafed® etc.) can cause death due to heart failure. Finally, studies show that antidepressants are the most common cause of toxicity in pets. High doses can produce sedation, vomiting, convulsions and severe abdominal pain. Remember to keep your medicine in a closed cabinet or an inaccessible place where your pet can't reach.


In your garden

It is known that many plants, indoors and outdoors, can be toxic to your household pets. Although the majority of poisonous plants can cause simple digestive irritations, some can be much more damaging. The ingestion of a poisinous plant can cause systemetic problems such nausea, convulsions, irritation of the gastrointestinal tract, major organ failure such as the kidneys and liver which can result in death. Before buying any plants for home decor or for your garden, it is important to know which plants may cause these adverse reactions.

The following is a shortned list of toxic plants for your house hold pets:

- Achira, Acorn Squash, Adam-and-Eve, African Daisy, African Violet, African Wonder Tree, Algaroba, Almond, Aloe, Aluminum Plant, Alumroot, Alyssum, Amaryllis, American Yew, Apple, Apricot, Autumn Crocus, Avocado, Azalea, Bamboo, Banana, Banana Squash, Beets, Begonia, Bitternut, Black Cherry, Blue Daisy, Buttercup, Butterfly Iris, Calla Lily, Camellia, Canna Lily, Carnation, Carob, Castor Bean, Catnip, Cherry, Chestnut, Chrysanthemum, Cinnamon, Coffee Tree, Cyclamen, English Ivy, Kalanchoe, Lilies, Marijuana, Oleander, Peace Lily, Pothos, Sago Palm, Schefflera,Tulip/Narcissus bulbs 

Please visit https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/dogs-plant-list for a full list of poisonous plants for cats and dogs.

If you catch your animal while ingesting a potentially toxic plant or have noticed strange disoriented behaviour from your pet, contact your veterinarian immediately. For a more rapid diagnosis, bring a photo of the plant you think your pet may have ingested to facilitate its identification and establish the best treatment.


In your kitchen

Although sometimes it is tempting to give your pet some homemade food, it is important to know what human foods are toxic to your pet. Symptoms may involve vomiting, convulsions, diarrhea, arrhythmias, major organ failure such as the kidney and liver which may lead to death. The following ingredients can be fatal for your pets.

- Alcoholic beverages, Apple seeds, Apricot pits, Avocados, Cherry pits, Candy (particularly chocolate-which is toxic to dogs, cats, and ferrets-and any candy containing the toxic sweetener Xylitol), Coffee (grounds, beans, and chocolate-covered espresso beans), Garlic, Grapes, Gum (can cause blockages and sugar free gums may contain the toxic sweetener Xylitol), Hops (used in home beer brewing), Macadamia nuts, Moldy foods, Mushroom plants, Mustard seeds, Onions and onion powder, Peach pits, Potato leaves and stems (green parts), Raisins, Rhubarb leaves, Salt, Tea (contains caffeine), Tomato leaves and stems (green parts), Walnuts, Xylitol (artificial sweetener that is toxic to pets) and Yeast dough. If you witness your dog eating any of these ingredients, please call your veterinary clinic immediately. 


In your garage

You may think that your pet would never eat something from the garage, but you may be surprised as to what your pet may get into. Due to its sweet taste, the antifreeze fluid used in engines is very attractive to your pets and is potentially highly toxic. Symptoms of ingestion may show signs of incoordination and weakness. The antifreeze can cause the formation of crystals in the kidneys which will increase the need to drink and urinate and eventually causing kidney failure and result in death. 

Another highly toxic product for all pets is rat poison, which in a nutshell causes the death of small rodents by causing the blood to clot. Symptoms related to intoxication can take up to several days to appear. Unfortunately due to this latent reaction, when the animal finally shows signs of weakness, lethargy and arrhythmias, it is often too late. Fortunately, if treated rapidly, rat poison cat be treated considerably well. As a precaution, never use rat poison in the presence of any house hold pets.


The speed of action and the exact identification of the product using its packaging are the keys to success in the treatment of several intoxications in dogs and cats. If you suspect that your pet has ingested any of the products listed above, contact your veterinarian promptly. No intoxication should be taken lightly. Your veterinary team will advise you.