to Avoid Feeding Your Pet
or spoiled foods
toxins—toads, insects, spiders, snakes and scorpions
algae in ponds
plants and plant bulbs
and snail baits containing metaldehyde
examples of human medications that can be potentially lethal to pets,
even in small doses, include:
and mouse bait
pennies (due to high concentration of zinc)
tree water (may contain fertilizers and bacteria, which, if
ingested, can upset the stomach.
or tinsel (can become lodged in the intestines and cause intestinal
obstruction—most often occurs with kittens!)
Substances for Dogs and Cats
following substances are considered to be non-toxic, although they
may cause mild gastrointestinal upset in some animals:
most common poisons
is said to be sweet and animals like to eat it. But ingestion of
antifreeze can be fatal if untreated.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
and Snail Bait (Metaldehyde)
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
you know…chocolate can be harmful or even deadly to pets?
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.
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.
You Know… Onions, garlic, chives and other species of the plant
genus Allium can be potentially toxic to pets?
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
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
Ten Poisonous Plants
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
to do if your pet has been poisoned
your veterinary surgery immediately
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.