As we probably know dogs and cats sometimes can be inquisitive, young ones in particular. Mouthing or eating different things is a part of growing up and experimenting. However sometimes experiments can backfire...

There are many toxic food and household items, which could prove lethal to our pets. Below is a list of these items and the effects they can have if eaten – even in minute quantities.

Avocado – leaves, skin, seeds and bark Gastrointestinal irritation in dogs Respiratory distress, lung congestion, pericardial effusion (fluid in the sac around the heart) and death in birds, rabbits and rodents Mastitis in ruminants (such as cows) and rabbits
Broccoli Causes stomach upsets but probably won’t be harmful unless the amount fed exceeds 10% of the dogs total daily diet
Chocolate, Tea, Coffee Stimulation of nervous and cardiovascular systems, vomiting, diarrhoea, hyperactivity, tremors, seizures, heart failure, coma, death
Cyanide Poisoning – stems, leaves and seeds of apples,cherries, peaches, apricots, pear pips, kernels of plums Interferes with cellular metabolism (the chemical processes which occur within a cell), vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness, incoordination, difficulty breathing, hyperventilation (abnormally fast breathing), shock, coma, death
Grapes/Raisins – Fresh or dried Gastrointestinal problems – diarrhoea, vomiting, kidney failure, coma, death
Macadamia Nuts Temporary gastrointestinal and neurological signs, weakness and depression, vomiting, ataxia (incoordination/staggering), tremors, hyperthermia (high temperature)
Mushrooms - Wild Affects multiple systems in the body, liver Disease, neurological disorders, shock, death
Onion, Leeks, Garlic, Onion Powder – Baby food Heinz Body Anaemia (deficiency in the oxygen carrying component of blood), lethargy, weakness, red urine, decreased stamina, pale or bluish gums
Potato Peelings, sprouts Affects the digestive, nervous and urinary systems
Tomatoes – Green, Tomato Plants and leaves, Rhubarb leaves Cause dilated pupils, tremors and irregular heart beat
Yeast Dough Can expand and produce gas in the digestive system, causing vomiting, disorientation, depression, bloat, pain and possible rupture of the stomach and intestines
Ethylene Glycol – Car radiator antifreeze Ataxia (incoordination/staggering), hyperexcitability (an excessive reaction to stimuli), seizures, rapid heart rate, hyperventilation (abnormally fast breathing), depression, vomiting, diarrhoea, dehydration, neurological and cardiovascular problems, kidney failure, death
Lead Poisoning – old paints, car battery, golf balls, lead objects Vomiting, diarrhoea, anaemia, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, lethargy, seizures, hysteria, blindness, effects red blood cells, can damage the gastrointestinal tract, nervous system and then kidney failure, death
Metaldehyde – Snail Bait Panting, excitement, agitation, disorientation, incoordination, increased heart and respiratory rates, salivation, over response to stimuli, muscle tremors, seizures, unconsciousness, laboured or difficulty breathing, hyperthermia, death
Organophosphates – Flea products Mostly seen in cats when the use of a dog treatment is applied. Over stimulation of the nervous system, muscle contractions, quivering, disorientation, distressed, collapse, hyperthermia, death
Paracetamol – Panadol Ibuprofen – Nurofen Nausea, vomiting, seizures, anxiety, incoordination, neurological signs, dark urine, gastric ulcerations, bleeding disorders, liver and kidney failure, coma, death
Rodenticides – Rat Bait Causes insufficient blood clotting; bruising, bleeding from the nose and gums, blood in urine, dark faeces, internal haemorrhage, distended abdomen, weakness, lethargy, death
Cigarettes, cigars, nicotine gum, nicotine nasal sprays Nicotine toxicity can cause tremors, weakness, stumbling/incoordination, depression, hyperactivity, lethargy, drooling, vomiting, diarrhoea, possible seizures, death.
Ethanol (alcohol) Ataxia (incoordination/staggering), excitement, depression, excessive urination, slow respiratory rate, cardiac arrest, death.

What do I do if something l ike this happens?

First of all don’t panic. Sometimes ingested quantities may not be enough to cause
poisoning. Also there is always our 24 hour emergency centre to talk to anytime. Sometimes all you need is advice.

Remove your pet from the toxin so it does not ingest more while you are talking on the
phone. You can try to wash it off with a shampoo (if it is topical product) or try to rinse your
pet’s mouth with water to remove the residues of toxic substance. It is wise to keep a
sample of toxic substance and know the exact trade name and active ingredients. This
saves us precious time and we can spend it on treating your pet instead.

Do not try to induce vomiting in your pet. Sometimes you can cause more damage this way.

Ask our vets about the best approach.

How is poisoning treated?

That depends on toxic substance ingested and this is impossible to discuss in detail in this article. Basic methods are:

  • Induce vomiting where indicated
  • Promote elimination through liver and kidneys or support these organs. Intravenous fluids are often the best way to go
  • Remove residues from inside the body (administering enema or gastric lavage) or outside (such as bathing in shampoo or washing it off with tap water). Inducing diarrhoea can speed up the removal of the toxic substance from the body
  • Bind the toxic residues with charcoal
  • Give specific antidote if any
  • Keeping the pet comfortable through the process, such as by using a control fitting. Always remember that good management, thinking in advance and having a plan in case of emergency will minimise stress when emergency happens.

If you have any questions, please contact your local Vets4Pets practice.