As safe as we want our homes to be for our pets, there are potential pet toxins everywhere. Some of these toxins may be surprising given we consume or interact with them without any ill-effects. However, what’s safe for us isn’t always safe for our pets, especially our pets that are extra curious. Dr. Zak is all about prevention when it comes to toxins so here’s his top 10 toxins to watch out for.
If you suspect your pet has eaten any of these, call Parkside Animal Hospital right away. It’s an emergency and your pet need immediate care. If we’re closed, contact the Pet Poison Helpline (855)764-7661 and prepare to take your pet to a local emergency clinic.
- Chocolate contains theobromine and caffeine, both of which are toxic to cats and dogs.
- The darker the chocolate, the more danger it poses.
- Signs of chocolate toxicity include vomiting, diarrhea, increased thirst, and restlessness.
- In severe cases, seizures and heart failure can occur.
- THC, a substance found in cannabis, is toxic to pets.
- Pets can be exposed by inhaling second-hand smoke, or through ingestion of butts or edibles.
- Some cannabidiol (CBD) products can contain THC without it being on the label
- Do not smoke marijuana inside a home with pets and do not leave anything out for a curious pet to ingest.
- Symptoms of toxicity include:
- Uncoordinated walking
- Dilated pupils
- Drooling, vomiting, dribbling urine
- Tremors, seizures, coma
Grapes, raisins, onions, and garlic
- Even small amounts of grapes or raisins can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and possibly acute kidney failure.
- Any plant belonging to the onion family (e.g., onions, chives, leeks, garlic, and even ornamental plants in the allium family) are poisonous to both cats and dogs.
- Signs of onion and garlic poisoning include nausea, drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, and collapse.
- Artificial sweetener also known as Birch sugar, wood sugar or birch bark extract.
- Can be found in many sweetened foods including peanut butter.
- Even small amounts can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, and even death.
- Signs of xylitol poisoning develop within 15 minutes of consumption and may include vomiting, weakness, lack of coordination, tremors, seizures, and coma.
- Recent research shows that xylitol is not known to be toxic to cats but err on the side of caution and keep all xylitol-sweetened treats away from dogs and
- Over the counter (OTC) and prescription medications can be lethal to pets, even in small amounts.
- Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as Advil® or Motrin®), prescription ADD/ADHD medications, and human antidepressants all make “the top ten” list of pet poisonings. They have different effects on dogs and cats, but all of them are serious and can be fatal.
- Keep these medications in closed containers, out of reach of curious pets.
- Pets are often exposed by chewing on the containers resulting in accidental ingestion.
- Never leave medication loose in your pockets, purse, or backpack—a curious pet can easily consume loose pills.
- Know your plants! Some plants can be toxic to your pet.
- As mentioned, ornamental alliums, chives, and onions are toxic to cats and dogs. The ASPCA has a comprehensive list of plants that can be searched to determine toxicity prior to bringing them into your house.
- Lilies (all types) are especially toxic to cats, causing severe kidney failure—even the pollen and the water left in the pot’s saucer is toxic.
- Symptoms include vomiting, depression and poor or no appetite.
- Ethylene glycol (aka anti-freeze) is a sweet liquid that’s attractive and unfortunately highly toxic to pets.
- Pets are usually exposed through spills, an unsealed container, or from toilets where anti-freeze has been applied.
- Symptoms of toxicity include depression, difficulty walking, seizures, increased drinking and urination, and vomiting.
- All rodenticides are toxic and potentially lethal if your pet consumes enough of it.
- Use protective bait stations out of reach of pets or to be safe, don’t use rodenticides at all.
- Rats will often move bait from a bait station to an area that’s accessed by your pet.
- Symptoms include weakness, nosebleeds, bruising, bloody urine, increased drinking and urination, decreased appetite, bad breath, incoordination, tremors, seizures, and paralysis.
Snail and slug bait
- Snail and slug baits contain metaldehyde that is very toxic to pets.
- Initial signs include vomiting which progresses to nervous symptom signs including a wobbly or stiff gait, racing heart, and increased respiratory rate. Muscle tremors, seizures, and loss of consciousness will follow several hours later.
Final word of advice: Be prepared! Pets are crafty and can get into things despite your efforts to keep them safe. Don’t leave any food or medications where your pet can reach them and best to leave any toxic plants, and poisons at the store – not your home.
At Parkside Animal Hospital, we’re open 6 days a week and are equipped to handle emergency situations. Please call us to let us know you’re coming. This allows us to be ready to care for your pet. If you think that your pet has consumed a toxin, don’t wait to see if symptoms develop – take immediate action and call us right away at 289-895-8985.