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Poisons Advice

Toxic & harmful items to your pet

View our detailed list of foods and items that are toxic or harmful to cats and dogs.

Cat poisons information

Due to the curious nature of cats and the fact that they will groom any substance from their coats and eat it, intoxication is not uncommon. We need to be aware of the risks of poisonous substances, how to notice them and what to do if you suspect your cat has been poisoned.

How can my cat become poisoned?

Cats may be poisoned by:

  • Eating the poison or eating poisoned prey
  • Inhalation of the poisonous substance
  • Ingesting the poison whilst grooming the substance from their contaminated coat
  • Absorbing a poisonous substance via the skin, usually from their pads on their feet

Noticing the signs of poisoning:
The symptoms your cat may display are variable and will depend on the type of poison. Some toxins may act on one body system and therefore could produce any combination of signs. Many toxic substances will cause vomiting and diarrhoea, but in more severe cases, neurological signs may be seen. These include seizures, incoordination, tremors, excitability, depression or coma. Difficulty breathing, coughing or sneezing can also occur. They may display skin problems such as redness or scratching. The liver and kidneys can also be affected by the toxin causing signs such as increased drinking, more urinating and being off their food.

What should I do if I suspect my cat has been poisoned?
Firstly remove your cat from the suspected source of poison and remove from other pets, taking care of your own safety. If the poison is on the coat or paws, try to prevent your cat from grooming. Contact us immediately on our emergency number: 01482 223688. Very few poisons have fatal consequences if treated immediately. We will need to know what the poison is, how the poisoning occurred and the quantity consumed.

You must not try to make your cat vomit, unless you are instructed to do so by the Veterinary Surgeon. If you are asked to come to the practice bring a sample of the poison and/or its packaging with you.

If the skin or coat is contaminated, wash thoroughly with a mild shampoo and warm water. Keep your cat warm by drying with a towel and wrap in a towel for the journey to the vets.

Types of Poisons
It is important to know the types of poisonous substances and if possible avoid keeping them in the house or garden.

Household Products:

Cleaning products: (Bleach, Dettol, Laundry Capsules/Liquids, Polishes, Cleaning Fluids/Creams, and Disinfectants). These type of poisons are usually absorbed via the feet after a cat has walked on the substance. Remove your cat from the room whilst carrying out your cleaning to avoid contamination. Ensure the floors and surfaces are completely dry before allowing your cat to re-enter the room.

Motoring products: (Antifreeze, Brake Fluid, Petrol, Windscreen Washer Fluid, De-icing Sprays) Antifreeze poisoning is extremely common, and unfortunately can be deliberate. Many cats find Antifreeze sweet tasting and are therefore drawn to the substance; even the smallest amount ingested can lead to kidney failure and death.

Human medications: (Paracetamol, Aspirin, Antidepressants, and Laxatives) Paracetamol toxicity is the most common as it is often given in a caring but misguided attempt to relieve pain. It is highly toxic to cats and even just one tablet could cause severe illness or death. If you suspect your cat is in pain, always contact your local practice for appropriate and safe treatment. If you suspect paracetamol poisoning, do not delay in contacting the vet as treatment would need to be given quickly.

Beauty products: (Hair Dyes, Nail Polish, Polish Remover and Suntan Lotion)

Decorative materials: (Paint, Varnish, Paint Remover, White Spirit and Wood Preservatives such as Creosote). These can be poisonous if groomed from coat or can cause burning, blisters or irritation to the skin, footpads or mouth.

Miscellaneous: (Chocolate, Mothballs, Photographic Developer and Shoe Polish) 

Always store these products away safely and clean spillages immediately.

Kitchen:

Garlic, Onions, Leeks and Chives: These are members of the Allium family and poisoning results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells (causing the red bloods cells to rupture) and gastro-enteritis (inflammation of the stomach). Symptoms include anaemia, lethargy, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, collapse, weakness, nausea, drooling, abdominal pain, irritation of the mouth, vomiting and diarrhoea. These symptoms can have a delayed onset. 

Macadamia nuts: Symptoms include weakness and vomiting. Macadamia nuts are more toxic to dogs than cats.

Avocado: Avocados contain Persin that can act as a poison causing vomiting and diarrhoea.

Caffeine: Symptoms include hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate, high temperature, tremors, seizures, collapse and death.

Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, Almond Nuts, Apple Seeds: Contains cyanogenic glycosides which can impede the ability of blood to release oxygen to the tissues. This can cause suffocation. Symptoms include dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, bright red gums, shock and death.

Pesticides:

Insecticides: (Insect killers including ant and wasp killers) such as organophosphates and pyrethroids.

Molluscicides: (Slug and snail pellets) such as metaldehyde and methiocarb.

Fungicides: (For treating fungal infections e.g. mildews, rusts, rose black spot) such as thiophanage-methyl and benomyl.

Rodenticides: (Rat and mouse killers) such as brodifacoum, difenacoum, chlorphacione and coumatetralyl. The most common route of toxicity is when a cat ingests a prey that had ingested the rodenticide, e.g. cat eating a mouse.

Dog Flea Products and Ant Powder/Spray
Permethrin poisoning occurs when a dog flea product is applied on a cat. Please ensure that your cat only has cat treatment to avoid poisoning your cat. Permethrin is found in many spot-on preparations for dogs used to control fleas, biting flies and lice. Permethrin is also present in some ant powder/spray products. Cats may salivate, be thirsty, or have a high temperature with tremors or convulsions. 

Bites or Stings
Cats can be bitten or stung by insects which could injure them. If you suspect your cat has been bitten or stung, contact your local practice immediately for advice.

Plants
There are many commonly-grown plants, both house plants and garden plants that are toxic or can cause skin irritation. As cats like to eat grass to promote digestion they may also ingest the plant. Indoor cats in particular are a high risk as if they are not provided with grass to nibble on this may cause the need to eat other plants. The highest risk is Lillies (plants of the lillium species). It is not just the leaves but also the flowers and the pollen that are highly toxic to cats. Less than one leaf ingested by a cat can cause kidney failure and urgent veterinary attention is required to prevent death. Check flower labels for warnings.

Here are some examples of plants that are toxic to cats:

  • Amaryllis (Amaryllis sp.)
  • Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
  • Azaleas and Rhododendrons (Rhododendron sp.)
  • Castor Bean (Ricinus communis)
  • Chrysanthemum (Chrysanthemum sp.)
  • Cyclamen (Cyclamen sp.)
  • English Ivy (Hedera helix)
  • Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe sp.)
  • Lillies (Lilium sp.)
  • Marjuana (Cannabis sativa)
  • Oleander (Nerium oleander)
  • Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
  • Pothos (Epipremnum aureum)
  • Sago Palm (Cycas revoluta)
  • Spanish Thyme (Coleus ampoinicus)
  • Tulip and Narcissus Bulbs (Tulipa and Narcissus sp.)
  • Yew (Taxus sp.)

If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, contact us immediately on our emergency number: 01482 223688.
 

Dog Poison Information

Due to dogs scavenging, they tend to eat random items that could potentially be harmful. We need to be aware of the risks of poisonous substances, how to notice them and what to do if you suspect your dog has been poisoned.

How can a dog become poisoned?

Dogs may be poisoned by the following:

  • Eating the poison 
  • Absorbing a poisonous substance via the skin, usually from their pads on their feet
  • Ingestion by grooming the substance off their coat
  • Inhalation of the poisonous substance

Noticing the signs of poisoning:
The clinical signs your dog may display are variable and will depend on the type of poison. Some toxins may act on one body system and therefore could produce any combination of signs

Many toxic substances will produce gastrointestinal signs (vomiting and diarrhoea), in more severe cases, neurological signs (seizures, incoordination, tremors, excitability, depression or coma). Respiratory disorders can also occur (difficulty breathing, coughing or sneezing). They may display skin problems such as inflammation. The liver and kidneys can also be affected by the toxin causing signs such as increased drinking, in appetence and weight loss.

What should I do if I suspect my dog has been poisoned?

  • Firstly remove your dog from the suspected source of poison and remove from other animals
  • If the poison is on the coat or paws, try to prevent your dog from grooming
  • Contact us immediately on our emergency 01482 223688
  • Note the time you noticed the poisoning had occurred and if possible bring the suspected poisonous substance to the vets
  • You must not try to make your dog vomit, unless you are instructed to do so by the Veterinary Surgeon
  • If the skin or coat is contaminated wash thoroughly with a mild shampoo and warm water. Keep your dog warm by drying with a towel and wrap in a towel for the journey to the vets

Types of Poisons
It is important to know the types of poisonous substances and it is advisable to deter from keeping any in the household and garden. However, when walking your dog it is quite easy for their findings to go un-noticed.

Try to discourage your dog from scavenging on walks. If their behaviour changes after eating any material on the walks and you are concerned it may have been poisonous, contact us immediately. 

In the Kitchen:

Chocolate: Chocolate is the most common poison reported to the Veterinary Poisons Information Service (VPIS). Contained in chocolate is theobromine, a stimulant. The darker the cocoa the more theobromine contained. Side effects include agitation, hyper excitability, tremors, convulsions, and heart disturbances.

Grapes, Raisins, Sultanas and Currants: Any quantity can be toxic, baking them does not make them any less poisonous. These cause kidney failure in dogs. Beware particularly at Christmas with Christmas cake or Christmas pudding.

Avocado: Avocados contain Persin that can act as a dog poison causing vomiting and diarrhoea.

Macadamia nuts: Symptoms include weakness and vomiting.

Xylitol: A sweetener found in candy or sugar-free chewing gum. Symptoms are a rapid drop in blood sugar causing weakness, seizures, in some cases liver failure.

Garlic, Onions, Leeks and Chives: These are members of the Allium family and poisoning results in oxidative damage to the red blood cells (causing the red bloods cells to rupture) and gastro-enteritis (inflammation of the stomach). Symptoms include anaemia, lethargy, increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, collapse, weakness, nausea, drooling, abdominal pain, irritation of the mouth, vomiting and diarrhoea. These symptoms can have a delayed onset. 

Apricots, Cherries, Peaches, Almond Nuts, Apple Seeds: Contains cyanogenic glycosides which can impede the ability of blood to release oxygen to the tissues. This can cause suffocation. Symptoms include dilated pupils, difficulty breathing, bright red gums, shock and death.

Bread dough (uncooked): When ingested the unbaked bread dough expands in the warm, moist environment of the stomach and can result in a bloated stomach, this can progress to a gastric-dilatation volvulus (GDV), which is a twisted stomach. Signs include vomiting, non-productive retching, a distended stomach, an elevated heart rate, weakness, collapse and death. When the unbaked dough is fermenting it produces carbon dioxide causing bloat and alcohol poisoning due to the yeast content. 

Caffeine: Symptoms include hyperactivity, restlessness, vomiting, elevated heart rate, high temperature, tremors, seizures, collapse and death.

Salt: Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, inappetance, lethargy, tremors, seizures, coma and death

In the Garden or on Walks:

Slug/Snail Pellets (Mulluscicides): Such as metaldehyde. Metaldehyde poisoning is usually fatal without urgent treatment.

Molluscicides (Slug and snail pellets): Such as metaldehyde and methiocarb. The main sign of metaldehyde poisoning is convulsions, which could last many hours. 

Rodenticides (Rat and mouse killers): Such as brodifacoum, difenacoum, chlorphacione and coumatetralyl. Some Rodenticides are anti-coagulants (prevent blood clotting). Poisoning with rodenticides could cause life threatening bleeding; these effects may take several days to appear.

Mushrooms: Only a small percentage of mushrooms are toxic, however, as it is usually difficult to identify the mushroom species, avoid ingestion of all mushrooms. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, hallucination, tremors, seizures, liver and or kidney failure, abdominal pain, walking drunk and depression.

Plants:

Tulips and Daffodils: Symptoms include convulsions, increased heart rate and severe stomach problems.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons: Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, coma and death.

Sago Palms: Symptoms include vomiting, seizures and liver failure.

Medication 

Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS): Such as Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Diclofenac etc. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding from the gut, stomach ulceration and kidney failure. 

Vitamin D: Vitamin D exists in creams or ointments such as for psoriasis. Poisoning can cause diarrhoea, vomiting, bleeding from the gut, convulsions, kidney failure and abnormal heart rhythm.

Alcohol: Similar symptoms to humans such as vomiting, breathing difficulties, coma, death.


If you suspect your dog has been poisoned, contact us immediately on our emergency number: 01482 223688.

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