Toxins

Introduction

Many of the medications and products that we have around the home are actually very dangerous for animals if they are ingested. We ask that you never prescribe your own medications to your pet and that you always keep all medications out of reach of pets and children at all times. We have provided a brief list of common household products that are toxic to our pets. This does not include all potential hazards. If your pet has eaten something that you are concerned about, please call us for advice immediately. Try to bring the toxins packaging with you if you need to visit us here at the hospital, this helps us to identify the potential degree of poisoning.

Rat (and mouse) poison

Rat poison is often presented in pellets or blocks that contain cereal. This makes it quite attractive to dogs in particular. Some products contain a deterrent to pets, often labeled as “pet safe” but they still contain the same toxic poison and many dogs will still eat them! Rat poison does not cause immediate signs of poisoning but can take 3-5 days to cause problems. It works by preventing the normal process of blood clotting which leads to internal and external bleeding and anaemia. It is potentially fatal. Please contact us immediately if you think your pet has ingested rat poison. Treatment is available. It is most important to bring the packaging with you if possible to help us with the best treatment protocol for your pet. These poisons must be stored safely away from all pets.

Snail Bait

Snail pellets are also cereal based and attractive for pets to eat. Signs of poisoning are more immediate and may include salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, muscle twitching, staggering and convulsions. Treatment is urgent and involves admission to the Hospital. It is most important to bring the packaging with you if possible to help us with the best treatment protocol for your pet. Please avoid placing these where your pet can get to them.

 

Paracetamol

Paracetamol should never be given to cats or dogs. Cats are very sensitive to this drug and a single dose will often result in liver failure, anaemia, and death. Dogs are not as sensitive but it must still be avoided.

Ibuprofen and other Anti-inflammatories

These drugs often cause gastrointestinal ulcers, kidney disease and clotting disorders when used incorrectly. There are several anti-inflammatories that are now registered for use in dogs and cats that are safe to use.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains theobromine which dogs find difficult to metabolise. The darker the chocolate, the higher the content of theobromine. Signs of toxicity include restlessness, muscle twitching and elevated heart rate. Severe cases may start seizures and finally fall into a coma and die. The good news is there are special “dog chocolates” available that do not contain the theobromine!

Toxic Plants

There are many plants that are actually toxic if eaten by animals. Lilies are toxic to cats if they are ingested. Other toxic plants include mistletoe, azalea, wisteria, impatiens and hyacinth. Most pets will ignore the plants but if they start to chew them, they are best removed or fenced off to prevent access to them.

 

 

Toxic foods

The following foods can cause toxic effects if ingested by dogs and cats and thus should be avoided; onions (especially raw or undercooked onions), avocados, grapes and macadamias as well as chocolate as already mentioned. 

Antifreeze

Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol which if ingested is extremely toxic to pets. It causes kidney failure and neurological signs. Ensure that it is disposed of in sealed containers if changing your radiator.

Flea products

Care needs to be taken when using some flea products. In general, the topical spot on products available today are safe and easy to use. These have largely replaced flea rinses and shampoos. Some dog flea rinses are toxic to cats. High overdoses of some flea rinses can be lethal. We rarely recommend the use of flea rinses, shampoos or powders anymore as there are now more effective and safer alternatives. Please ask us about the best flea treatment for your pet.

Snakes

Australia has some of the world’s most venomous snakes! Snakes are most active in hot, dry weather and are not uncommonly encountered in suburbia. Tiger, brown and copperhead snakes are commonly found in Victoria. Signs of snake bite include vomiting, staggering, panting, paralysis and eventually death. Anti-venom is available for all of these types of snakes and immediate treatment at the Hospital is required to increase the chances of recovery.