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Please find below a guide to day-to-day items found around the house which are poisonous to Pets, and what signs to look out for if you think they’re ingested them. If you are ever at all worried, or you believe your Pets has just consumed any of these, call us and speak to one of our team.

Alcohol
Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally mild to severe

Common signs to watch for:

  • Drooling
  • Retching
  • Vomiting or attempting to vomit
  • Distended stomach/bloat
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure)
  • Coma
  • Hypothermia
  • Death

Most people know not to give alcoholic drinks to their pets; however, alcohol poisoning in pets is more common than you think! This is because alcohol can be found in surprising places. Rum-soaked fruitcake or unbaked dough containing yeast result in alcohol poisoning and other life-threatening problems. Unbaked bread dough will expand in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloated stomach (called “bloat”), which can then progress to a gastric-dilitation volvulus (GDV), which is a twisted stomach. Signs of GDV include vomiting, non-productive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse, and death. Secondly, when the yeast in the unbaked dough is fermented, it results in the production of carbon dioxide (causing the bloat) and alcohol. Alcohol from the fermenting yeast is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and results in alcohol poisoning quickly. Ingestion of alcohol can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar, blood pressure and body temperature. Intoxicated animals can experience seizures and respiratory failure.

 
Antifreeze
Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Severe to fatal

Common signs to watch for:

  • Drunkenness
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Vomiting
  • Panting
  • Sedation
  • Halitosis
  • Lethargy
  • Coma
  • Acute kidney failure
  • Death

Antifreeze, which contains ethylene glycol (EG), is extremely dangerous to dogs and cats. Sources of ethylene glycol include automotive antifreeze (radiator coolant, which typically contains 95% ethylene glycol), windshield deicing agents, motor oils, hydraulic brake fluid, developing solutions for photography, paints, solvents, etc. As little as a tablespoon can result in severe acute kidney failure in dogs, while as little as 1 teaspoon can be fatal to cats. When dogs or cats are exposed to ethylene glycol, immediate treatment is necessary.

Three stages of poisoning can be seen with ethylene glycol:

Stage 1: This occurs within 30 minutes to 12 hours, and looks similar to alcohol poisoning. Signs of walking drunk, drooling, vomiting, seizuring, and excessive thirst and urination may be seen.

Stage 2: This occurs within 12-24 hours post-exposure, and clinical signs seen to “resolve” when in fact more severe internal injury is still occurring.

Stage 3: In cats, this stage occurs 12-24 hours after ethylene glycol exposure. In dogs, this stage occurs 36-72 hours post-ingestion. During this stage, severe acute kidney failure is occuring. Signs of inappetance, lethargy, drooling, halitosis (secondary to kidney failure), coma, depression, vomiting, and seizures may be seen.

Treatment for ethylene glycol poisoning includes the antidote fompeizole (also known as 4-MP) or ethanol. The antidote, fomepizole (also known as 4-MP), is expensive but life-saving when administered to dogs within the first 8-12 hours of ingestion. In cats, the antidote must be administered within 3 hours of ingestion to be effective; after this time period, ethylene glycol poisoning is almost 100% fatal without hemodialysis. Aggressive therapy is necessary to survive.

 
Avocado
Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Mild

Common signs to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of stool production

Avocado contains a toxin called persin, but despite the rumours, avocado is not poisonous to dogs, nor likely to cats. Only certain species are poisoned by persin. While dogs and cats don’t seem to be affected by persin, avocado poisoning can be deadly to birds and large animals (such as cattle). The bigger risk to dogs and cats is a foreign body obstruction, which can occur if the dog swallowed the whole large, round avocado seed; due to size alone, this seed can get stuck in the oesophagus, stomach or intestinal tract of dogs.

 
Caffeine
Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe/life-threatening

Common signs to watch for:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Tremors
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Death

Humans continue to drink and use more and more caffeine, making pets more frequently exposed to this dangerous chemical. There are several sources of caffeine in the house: in coffee, coffee grounds, tea, soda, energy drinks, weightlifter supplements, OTC pills (e.g., NoDoz), and diet pills. Theobromine, a cousin chemical to caffeine is also found chocolate. Dogs and cats appear to be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine than people. While 1-2 laps of coffee, tea or soda will not contain enough caffeine to cause poisoning in most pets, the ingestion of moderate amounts of coffee grounds, tea bags or 1-2 diet pills can easily cause death in small dogs or cats. When ingested, clinical signs of hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, an elevated heart rate, hypertension (elevated blood pressure), abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), seizures, collapse and death may be seen.

 
Cherries
Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally mild to moderate

Common signs to watch for:

  • Dilated pupils
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Inadequate oxygen levels
  • Bright red gums
  • Shock
  • Death

Cherry trees and shrubs (Prunus sp) including the Choke cherry, Black cherry and cherry laurel contain cyanogenic glycosides. All parts of these plants other than the ripe pulp around the seeds are considered toxic and contain cyanide. Cyanide inhibits cytochrome oxidase, an enzyme necessary for cellular oxygen transport, preventing appropriate oxygen uptake by cells. When ingested in toxic amounts, clinical signs of dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, inadequate oxygen levels, bright red gums, shock, and death can be seen.

 
Chocolate
Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally mild to severe

Common signs to watch for:

  • Hyperactivity
  • Restlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Hypertension (elevated blood pressure)
  • Abnormal heart rhythms
  • Tremors
  • Hyperthermia (elevated body temperature)
  • Seizures
  • Collapse
  • Death

While the occasional chocolate chip within one cookie may not be an issue, we worry about certain types of chocolate – the less sweet and the darker the chocolate, the more toxic it is to your dog. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. Other sources include chewable, flavoured multi-vitamins, baked goods, or chocolate-covered espresso beans. The chemical toxicity is due to a methylxanthine (like theobromine and caffeine), and results in vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, inflammation of the pancreas (i.e., pancreatitis), an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and rarely, even death. Dogs make up 95% of all our chocolate calls, as cats are usually too discriminating to eat chocolate! In smaller dogs, even the wrappers from candy can result in a secondary obstruction in the stomach or intestines.

 
Currants
Poisonous to: Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe

Common signs to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abnormal drinking or urination
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence
  • Halitosis
  • Dehydration

Grapes, raisins, and even currants (some currants are actually small, black grapes) are toxic to your dog! In fact, there have been anecdotal reports of cats and ferrets being affected by these also. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute kidney failure. All types of grape- or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this. Even organic, pesticide-free, grapes grown in home gardens can result in toxicity. Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhea, and potentially severe acute renal failure (which develops several days later). The toxicity is not necessarily dose-dependent, and symptoms can occur with even small ingestions. Decontamination (e.g., inducing vomiting, decontaminating with activated charcoal, etc.), aggressive supportive care, aggressive IV fluid therapy, and kidney function (e.g., BUN/creatinine) monitoring is recommended.

 
Garlic
Poisonous to: Cats, Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally mild to moderate

Common signs to watch for:

  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Oral irritation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Elevated heart rate and respiratory rate
  • Weakness
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Collapse
  • Pale gums

Onions, garlic, chives, and leeks are in the Allium family, and are poisonous to both dogs and cats if the dose is right. Garlic is considered to be about five times as toxic as onions for cats and dogs. Certain breeds and species seem to be more sensitive: Japanese breeds of dogs (e.g., Akita, Shiba Inu) and cats. Onion and garlic poisoning results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells (making the red blood cells more likely to rupture) and gastroenteritis (e.g., nausea, oral irritation, drooling, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea). Other clinical signs of anemia may be seen, and include lethargy, pale gums, an elevated heart rate, an increased respiratory rate, weakness, exercise intolerance, and collapse. Onion and garlic poisoning may have a delayed onset, and clinical signs may not be apparent for several days. While minute amounts of these foods in some pets, especially dogs, may be safe, large ingestions can be very toxic.

 
Grapes
Poisonous to: Dogs

Level of toxicity: Generally moderate to severe

Common signs to watch for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abnormal drinking or urination
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetence
  • Halitosis
  • Dehydration

Grapes, raisins, and even currants (some currants are actually small, black grapes) are toxic to your dog! In fact, there have been anecdotal reports of cats and ferrets being affected by these also. Ingestion of even a small amount of grapes, raisins, or currants can result in severe, acute kidney failure. All types of grape- or raisin-containing products (including grape juice, trail mix, bagels, etc.) can result in this. Even organic, pesticide-free, grapes grown in home gardens can result in toxicity. Although the mechanism of action is not clearly understood on how grapes, raisins and currants are poisonous at this time, this common fruit can result in anorexia, vomiting, diarrhoea, and potentially severe acute renal failure (which develops several days later). The toxicity is not necessarily dose-dependent, and symptoms can occur with even small ingestions. Decontamination (e.g., inducing vomiting, decontaminating with activated charcoal, etc.), aggressive supportive care, aggressive IV fluid therapy, and kidney function (e.g., BUN/creatinine) monitoring is recommended.

 
Mushrooms
 
Onions
 
Raisins
 
Salt