Common Pet Toxins

Pet Toxin Awareness

Pet toxins are commonplace inside and outside our homes, and your pet’s curious nature may lead to an emergency veterinary visit if they encounter a toxic substance. Our Island Animal Hospital team wants to help raise awareness about toxicity in pets by providing information about the harmful substances around your home.

Pet toxins in your kitchen

Many foods you may eat on a regular basis are dangerous for pets. Ensure your four-legged friend doesn’t ingest the following pet-toxic foods:

  • Chocolate — Chocolate contains caffeine and the chemical compound theobromine, which stimulate the central nervous system in pets. The darker the chocolate, the higher the theobromine content, and the more dangerous for your pet. If your pet ingests only a small amount, signs can include vomiting, diarrhea, and hyperactivity, while higher doses may cause signs that include heart arrhythmias and seizures. Signs typically don’t start until about 12 hours after ingestion.
  • Grapes — Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin that results in kidney failure in pets. Vomiting typically occurs in the first 24 hours after ingestion, and kidney failure develops in 24 to 48 hours.
  • Xylitol — Xylitol is a sugar substitute frequently used in sugar-free gum and foods, dental products, and supplements. In pets, xylitol causes a dose-dependent insulin release, which causes hypoglycemia, and sometimes liver damage. Vomiting is a common early sign, followed by depression, incoordination, seizures, and collapse. Signs typically manifest around six hours after ingestion.
  • Onions and Garlic — Vegetables in the Allium family, such as onions, garlic, shallots, chives, and leeks, contain N-propyl disulfide, which can damage the pet’s red blood cells, resulting in anemia. Vomiting is a common early sign, followed by weakness, pale mucous membranes, and a reddish tint to the urine.

Pet toxins in your medicine cabinet

Prescription and over-the-counter human medications can be extremely dangerous for pets. The following medications are toxic to pets:

  • Ibuprofen — Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication found in many homes that can cause gastrointestinal ulceration at low doses, and kidney damage at higher doses. Signs include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, decreased appetite, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination. Gastrointestinal signs typically develop in 12 hours, and kidney failure can develop in 24 to 48 hours.
  • Acetaminophen — Acetaminophen is a pain reliever that causes liver failure in pets—especially cats, who are extra sensitive to the drug. Signs include depression, decreased appetite, abdominal pain, vomiting, and respiratory distress. Gastrointestinal signs may develop shortly after ingestion, and liver failure can occur in 24 to 48 hours.
  • Antidepressants — Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors, can cause your pet issues that include lethargy, disorientation, heart rate and blood pressure abnormalities, tremors, and seizures. Signs typically develop in four hours if your pet ingests the medication in a regular release drug formulation, and up to eight hours if they ingest an extended release formulation.
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs — Stimulant ADHD medications prescribed for people are dangerous for pets, causing signs that include agitation, vocalization, increased heart rate and blood pressure, hyperthermia, and seizures. Signs typically develop in several hours.

Pet toxins in your garage

The following substances commonly kept in garages are dangerous for pets:

  • Rodenticides — All types of rodenticides found on the market are dangerous for pets, including:
  • Anticoagulants — These products interfere with the body’s ability to produce vitamin-K dependent clotting factors, resulting in clotting disorders. Signs include lethargy, decreased appetite, increased respiratory rate and effort, pale mucous membranes, and blood in the urine and feces. Signs typically manifest about three to five days after ingestion.
  • Bromethalin — These products cause swelling in the brain, resulting in signs that include depression, incoordination, paralysis, seizures, hyperthermia, and coma. Signs typically begin about 24 to 48 hours after ingestion.
  • Cholecalciferol — These products can cause hypercalcemia and renal failure in pets, whose signs will include vomiting, depression, decreased appetite, diarrhea, and increased thirst and urination. Signs typically manifest in 24 hours after ingestion.

Slug baits — Slug baits contain the chemical metaldehyde, which is extremely toxic to dogs and cats, although the toxicity mechanism is not fully understood. Snail and slug baits are typically formulated as pellets, granules, powders, and liquids, and contain either molasses or bran to attract garden pests. Many pets, especially dogs, are attracted by the sweet flavoring and mistake these pellets for kibble. Slug bait toxicity signs can occur between 30 minutes and three hours after ingestion, and include anxious behavior, vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, seizures, and collapse. Less than a teaspoon of bait that contains metaldehyde can be toxic to pets and may be fatal without treatment.

Antifreeze — Ethylene glycol is a sweet tasting liquid that is the active ingredient in many antifreeze products, and can severely damage a pet’s kidneys. Signs develop in three stages:

  • Stage one — About 30 minutes after ingestion, the pet’s signs will include lethargy, vomiting, incoordination, increased urination and thirst, and seizures.
  • Stage two — About 12 to 24 hours after ingestion, signs improve, but pets become dehydrated and develop an elevated heart and respiratory rate.
  • Stage three — About 36 to 72 hours after ingestion, severe kidney dysfunction occurs, characterized by minimal to no urine production, progressive depression, vomiting, seizures, coma, and potentially death.

Pet toxins in your garden

Many pretty plants found in your flower beds are toxic to pets. Ensure your pet doesn’t encounter the following toxic plants:

  • Autumn crocus — Autumn crocuses contain a toxic alkaloid called colchicine that causes gastrointestinal irritation, liver and kidney damage, respiratory failure, and central nervous system effects in pets. Signs include vomiting, bloody diarrhea, respiratory distress, increased thirst and urination, and seizures. Signs may be seen immediately after ingestion, but can be delayed for 24 to 48 hours.
  • Lilies — Lilies are dangerous for all pets, but cats are especially sensitive to this plant. All parts of the plant, including the vase water, are toxic and can lead to kidney failure. Lethargy and vomiting typically occur up to 12 hours after ingestion, and kidney failure can occur up to 24 to 72 hours later.

Before adding blooms and greenery to your gardens, consult the ASPCA’s toxic and non-toxic plant list to ensure you don’t accidentally include pet-toxic plants.

Knowing what substances are toxic to pets can save your pet’s life. If your pet ingests a toxin, contact our Island Animal Hospital team or ASPCA Animal Poison Control to get expert advice on how to care for your pet.

By |2022-10-10T12:25:47+00:00July 10th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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