Your pet and poisons

Foods
to Avoid Feeding Your Pet

  • Alcoholic
    beverages

  • Avocado

  • Chocolate
    (all forms)

  • Coffee
    (all forms)

  • Fatty
    foods

  • Macadamia
    nuts

  • Mouldy
    or spoiled foods

  • Onions,
    onion powder

  • Raisins
    and grapes

  • Salt

  • Yeast
    dough

  • Garlic

Warm
Weather Hazards

  • Animal
    toxins—toads, insects, spiders, snakes and scorpions

  • Blue-green
    algae in ponds

  • Citronella
    candles

  • Compost
    piles Fertilizers

  • Flea
    products

  • Outdoor
    plants and plant bulbs

  • Swimming-pool
    treatment supplies

  • Fly
    baits

  • Slug
    and snail baits containing metaldehyde

Medication

Common
examples of human medications that can be potentially lethal to pets,
even in small doses, include:

  • Pain
    killers

  • Cold
    medicines

  • Anti-cancer
    drugs

  • Antidepressants

  • Vitamins

  • Diet
    Pills

Garden
Hazards

  • Antifreeze

  • Ice
    melting products

  • Rat
    and mouse bait

Common
Household Hazards

  • Liquid
    potpourri

  • Fabric
    softener sheets

  • Mothballs

  • Post-1982
    pennies (due to high concentration of zinc)

Holiday
Hazards

  • Christmas
    tree water (may contain fertilizers and bacteria, which, if
    ingested, can upset the stomach.

  • Electrical
    cords

  • Ribbons
    or tinsel (can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal
    obstruction—most often occurs with kittens!)

  • Batteries

  • Glass
    ornaments

Non-toxic
Substances for Dogs and Cats

The
following substances are considered to be non-toxic, although they
may cause mild gastrointestinal upset in some animals:

  • Water-based
    paints

  • Toilet
    bowl water

  • Silica
    gel

  • Poinsettia

  • Cat
    litter

  • Glue
    traps

The
most common poisons

Antifreeze

Antifreeze
is said to be sweet and animals like to eat it. But ingestion of
antifreeze can be fatal if untreated.

Ethylene
glycol is metabolised by the liver and travels in the bloodstream to
the kidneys, where it forms insoluble crystals. Once metabolism of
the ethylene glycol has reached a certain point, there is no way to
stop it. These crystals are insoluble, there is no way to remove them
from the body. They cause permanent damage to the kidney tissue,
which can ultimately lead to kidney failure.

An
animal that has ingested ethylene glycol must receive immediate
medical attention. Those caught in the act of drinking the antifreeze
have the best chance of survival because medical attention can be
administered immediately.

Initial
signs of antifreeze poisoning are depression and lethargy. Animals
may seem groggy or drunk. The final stages of poisoning are
characterised by vomiting, oral and gastric ulcers, and renal
failure, followed by death. The initial signs can last from 1 to 6
hours and death may occur between 3 to 4 days.

Most
antifreeze products that contain ethylene glycol have a fluorescent
dye added so they glow under a UV light. If antifreeze poisoning is
suspected, a quick and inexpensive way to determine if antifreeze was
ingested is to have your veterinarian shine the light on the muzzle,
paws, and under the tail of the animal. If antifreeze residue is
present, the hair will glow.

Treatment
for ethylene glycol poisoning can be expensive and can require
extended hospitalisation. In addition, treatment is not always
successful if the product has been metabolised. For this reason,
prevention is essential. Regardless of what kind of antifreeze you
use, it is important to keep pets out of it. Watch for leaks in your
car and keep pets away from the area where antifreeze is stored. If
you drain your antifreeze, do not leave it in an open container
because animals will be attracted to it. Dispose of this waste
properly and keep empty and full antifreeze containers away from
dogs, who may be tempted to chew on them. Even people who do not have
pets should follow these rules to avoid accidentally poisoning wild
animals and pets belonging to other people.

There
are newer brands of antifreeze on the market that use propylene
glycol instead of ethylene glycol. Propylene glycol is commonly found
in such products as lotions, creams, and toothpaste and is not as
toxic as ethylene glycol. If at all possible, it is best to choose an
antifreeze that does not contain ethylene glycol.

Slug
and Snail Bait (Metaldehyde)

Did
You know…certain products used for the control of slugs and snails
contain metaldehyde, which can potentially be very dangerous or even
lethal to pets?

Depending
on the amount ingested, these metaldehyde-containing baits can
rapidly produce clinical effects, from within a few minutes to a
couple of hours after ingestion. Signs can range from drooling,
vomiting, diarrhoea, panting and anxiety to in coordination,
increased heart rate, dilated pupils, seizures, central nervous
system depression, coma and death from respiratory failure.

Pet
owners should exercise extreme caution when using
metaldehyde-containing baits, taking steps to ensure that the product
is applied only to areas completely inaccessible to pets. Any unused
bait should be stored in a secure container and cabinet out of the
reach of pets. Alternatively, other less toxic formulations of snail
and slug bait could be considered, such as those containing ferric
phosphate.

Some
slug pellets have a note on the packaging stating they are animal
friendly or animal repellent. This is because they contain
ingredients that do not taste nice so that pets will not eat them.
Please do not use these products without care as many pets will still
eat them regardless.

Avocado

Did
You Know… Avocado is not an advisable food to give to pets? Avocado
leaves, fruit, seeds and bark contain a toxic principle known as
Persin. The Guatemalan variety, which is the most common variety
found in stores, appears to be the most problematic.

Chocolate

Did
you know…chocolate can be harmful or even deadly to pets?

Depending
on the form involved, chocolate can contain high amounts of fat and
caffeine-like substances known as methylxanthines. If ingested in
significant amounts, chocolate can potentially produce clinical
effects ranging from vomiting and diarrhoea to panting, excessive
thirst and urination, hyperactivity, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors,
seizures and even death in severe cases.

Typically,
the darker the chocolate, the higher the potential for clinical
problems from methylxanthine poisoning. White chocolate has the
lowest methylxanthine content, while baking chocolate contains the
highest. As little as 20 ounces of milk chocolate, or only two ounces
of baking chocolate can cause serious problems in a 10-pound dog.
While white chocolate may not have the same potential as darker forms
to cause a methylxanthine poisoning, the high fat content of lighter
chocolates could still lead to vomiting and diarrhoea, as well as the
possible development of life-threatening pancreatitis, an
inflammatory condition of the pancreas.

Onions,
Garlic, Chives

Did
You Know… Onions, garlic, chives and other species of the plant
genus Allium can be potentially toxic to pets?

Allium
species contain sulphur compounds known as disulphides, which if
ingested in large quantities can cause gastrointestinal irritation
and could even result in damage to red blood cells. While cats are
more sensitive to disulfides, dogs and other species of animals are
also susceptible to Allium poisoning if enough plant material is
consumed.

Fruits

The
peels, fruit and seeds of citrus plants such as lemons, oranges,
limes and grapefruits contain varying amounts of citric acid, limonin
and volatile oils that can cause gastrointestinal irritation such as
vomiting or diarrhoea if ingested. In some cases, exposures to high
concentrations of these substances (such as those found in certain
citrus-based cleaners) could possibly result in central nervous
system depression as well. The stems, leaves and seeds of apples,
cherries, peaches, apricots and certain other fruit trees contain
cyanogenic glycosides that have the potential to cause vomiting and
loss of appetite, and in severe cases weakness, in coordination,
difficulty in breathing, hyperventilation, shock, coma and even death
could occur.

Top
Ten Poisonous Plants

Lilies

Members of the Lilium spp. are considered to be
highly toxic to cats. While the poisonous component has not yet been
identified, it is clear that with even ingestions of very small
amounts of the plant, severe kidney damage could result.

Marijuana

Ingestion
of Cannabis sativa by companion animals can result in
depression of the central nervous system and in coordination, as well
as vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, increased heart rate, and even
seizures and coma.

Sago
Palm

All parts of
Cycas Revoluta are poisonous, but the seeds or “nuts”
contain the largest amount of toxin. The ingestion of just one or two
seeds can result in very serious effects, which include vomiting,
diarrhoea, depression, seizures and liver failure.

Tulip/Narcissus
bulbs

The bulb portions of Tulipa/Narcissus
spp. contain toxins that can cause intense gastrointestinal
irritation, drooling, loss of appetite, depression of the central
nervous system, convulsions and cardiac abnormalities

Azalea/Rhododendron

Members
of the Rhododenron spp. contain substances known as
grayantoxins, which can produce vomiting, drooling, diarrhoea,
weakness and depression of the central nervous system in animals.
Severe azalea poisoning could ultimately lead to coma and death from
cardiovascular collapse

Oleander

All
parts of Nerium oleander are considered to be toxic, as they
contain cardiac glycosides that have the potential to cause serious
effects—including gastrointestinal tract irritation, abnormal heart
function, hypothermia and even death.

Castor
Bean

The poisonous principle in
Ricinus communis is ricin, a highly toxic protein that can
produce severe abdominal pain, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea,
excessive thirst, weakness and loss of appetite. Severe cases of
poisoning can result in dehydration, muscle twitching, tremors,
seizures, coma and death

Cyclamen

Cylamen
species contain cyclamine, but the highest concentration of this
toxic component is typically located in the root portion of the
plant. If consumed, Cylamen can produce significant
gastrointestinal irritation, including intense vomiting. Fatalities
have also been reported in some cases.

Kalanchoe

This
plant contains components that can produce gastrointestinal
irritation, as well as those that are toxic to the heart, and can
seriously affect cardiac rhythm and rate.

Yew

Taxus
spp. contains a toxic component known as taxine, which causes
central nervous system effects such as trembling, in coordination,
and difficulty breathing. It can also cause significant
gastrointestinal irritation and cardiac failure, which can result in
death

What
to do if your pet has been poisoned

Don’t
panic


Call
your veterinary surgery immediately


If
you know what your pet has ingested, make a note or bring down the
packaging it may have been contained in. This will help the
veterinary surgeon decide on the correct treatment.