Common household poisons for pets
Pets aren’t particularly selective when they spot a shiny (or gross) something that either needs to be in their tummies or looks like the best fun ever to chew and play with. What they don’t realise (or care about) is whether it is toxic or poisonous.
This is where we have to step in, be the adult, and be aware of household and environmental dangers… just as we are with young children.
The following list, although not exhaustive by any means, covers some of the more common problems. More information can be found at the Veterinary Poisons Unit where there’s lots of help and advice for caring owners like you. Also check out BVA Animal Welfare Foundation or RSPCA.
Common household poisons for pets
- Chocolate – It’s the Theobromine in the cocoa which is poisonous. Don’t leave it lying around.
- Non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs e.g. Ibruprofen, Paracetamol Diclofenac. Keep them locked away.
- Flowers such as lilies, foxglove, hyacinth. Bear this in mind if sending flowers as a gift, as making the receiver’s pet ill won’t score you a date.
- Grapes (including raisins, sultanas, currants and scrummy mince pies). These can lead to kidney failure.
- Anti-freeze. This tastes super sweet… cats especially love this stuff. Take care storing and using it.
- Slug/snail pellets (Metaldehyde). Even small amounts can cause significant poisoning.
- Onions and garlic (instant gravy often contains onion, so check the ingredients). This includes leeks, chives, shallots, etc.
- Liquorice. Too much can cause liver damage.
- Xylitol – artificial sweetener found in products such as chewing gum. This is potentially more toxic than chocolate and causes rapid hypoglycemia.
- Wax candles. Evenings aren’t quite the same if a trip to the vet with a poorly pet needs to happen after eating your romantic efforts.
- Batteries. These are in your TV remote, phone and toys. If you have a chewy dog you’ll need to keep these items up high out of their reach.
- Dishwasher powder. Detergents have different levels of toxicity but I recommend keeping them in cupboards so your pets can’t even get a taste.
- Caffeine. Always clean up spilt coffee granules or your Starbucks cup.
- Oral contraceptives/hormone replacement therapy tablets. Keep these in a drawer so inquisitive noses don’t get the better of your pets.
What to do if you think your pet has been poisoned
If your pet has been poisoned or you suspect they have, remove them from the source. They may not be very happy about this, particularly if they are half way through the Green & Blacks, but tough. Collect any evidence; wrappers, leaflets, packets or labels and check the approximate time you believe they have eaten their chosen poison.
If they have been sick, note the contents and any colour – hold your nose if you have to, but do it! Then contact your Vetfone nurse for advice immediately.
Do not make them sick unless your vet advises this. Making them sick is a treatment for some poisons but not all. Why? Some poisons are irritant or corrosive, so the damage caused when they first ingested them will be caused again when they bring it back up. Inducing vomiting also needs to be done within a certain time frame. If your pet has managed to cover themselves in delightful substances like tar, preventing further ingestion of the substance is key (before taking them to the vets).
Cats in particular will groom like crazy trying to get it off. Use an Elizabethan collar or put a child’s vest or T-Shirt over them until you get to the vet clinic.