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Common Household Toxins

September 11, 2014

Brought to you by Peterborough West Animal Hospital:

Be Cautious with Common Household Items

Common household items can cause potentially fatal consequences if ingested by our animals.

Here is a list of the most common poisons:


1.   Mouse and Rat Poisons (Rodenticides)

Please make sure to put poisonous baits in spots where your pet can’t reach them – high up on shelves, behind work spaces, etc.  Cholecalciferol , the chemical name for vitamin D3 is one of the most deadly rodenticides to pets. A tiny amount of rodenticide needs to be ingested before poisoning occurs. Kidney failure can occur   within 12-36 hours following ingestion.

If your pet ingests any rodenticide, please call the Peterborough West Animal Hospital right away and have the package ready with the drug name and bring in the package when coming to the clinic.


2. Antifreeze

This is the season when people prepare cottages, boats and cars for winter.  As little as one teaspoon in a cat or one–two tablespoons in a dog, depending on the size of the animal, can be fatal. Signs of early poisoning include acting drunk or uncoordinated, excessive thirst, and lethargy. Immediate treatment is vital to the recovery of your pet if this occurs. After 8-12 hours crystals develop in the kidneys, which results in acute kidney failure.


  3 Compost Bins

Piles of decomposing and decaying organic matter and molding food products in the compost pile have the potential to contain “tremorgenic mycotoxins” – molds which cause tremors. Small amounts can result in tremors or seizures within 30 minutes to several hours.  Immediate treatment is necessary.



4.   Xylitol – containing products (Sugar-free gum, candies, cereals)

Ingestion by dogs can cause vomiting, weakness, seizures, low electrolytes, and low blood sugar levels due to excess insulin release. The liver can be affected within 4 hours of ingestion.  Hospital therapy is required to monitor glucose, liver and electrolytes.


5.   Canine topical flea and tick medicine designed for dogs but mistakenly plac ed on Cats

Occasionally cats are accidentally given dog flea medications. Cats develop tremors, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea. Cats often require intensive veterinary care in hospital. Immediate removal of the pesticide with dishwashing liquid and water is required.


6.   Chocolate

Of all candy chocolate is one of the most toxic to pets. Many dogs are inherently attracted to the smell and taste of chocolate. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more poisonous it is. The chemicals in chocolate, methylxanthines, are similar to caffeine and more heavily concentrated in the darker varieties. In fact, a 50-pound dog can be sickened by ingesting only one ounce of Baker’s chocolate! On the other hand, it may take up to eight ounces, (half a pound) of milk chocolate to cause poisoning in that same sized dog. White chocolate contains very low amounts of methylxanthine and rarely causes poisoning. To avoid issues, keep Halloween candy well out of the reach of pets at all times. If you think your pet may have ingested chocolate, symptoms to watch for include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, agitation, increased thirst, an elevated heart rate, and in severe cases, seizures.


7.   Mothballs

There are two types of mothballs – naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Both types can be deadly.   Signs of ingestion include vomiting, severe abdominal pain, tremors, possible liver or kidney failure and severe abnormality of red blood cells.


8.   Grapes and Raisin

Very small amounts of raisins (and grapes) can cause kidney failure in dogs and, potentially, cats. When it comes to your pets, raisins deserve the same pet-proofing treatment as chocolate – stored in secure containers far from their reach. Unfortunately, some dogs develop reactions at any dose – in other words, they can ingest any amount and potentially be poisoned. Therefore, any ingestion of raisins or grapes should be treated as a “poisoning” case. Symptoms include vomiting, nausea, decreased appetite, lethargy, abdominal pain, and severe kidney failure.

At Peterborough West Animal Hospital, we are

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