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Top 10 Dog and Cat Poisons

March 19, 2015

Since it’s creation in the United States in 1961, each year, the third week in March has been designated as National Poison Prevention Week. This year it falls on March 15-21. The team at Peterborough West Animal Hospital urges everyone to remember the four-legged members of the family, as they can be the most vulnerable.

If you suspect that your pet has ingested a poison, call the hospital (705-745-4800) and give us a heads’ up. Providing it is during normal business hours, proceed to the hospital immediately. Please be sure to bring the package/container of the suspected poison with you. It is helpful for Dr. Sargent or Dr. Giffen to know the active ingredient in the suspected poison so they can choose the appropriate treatment/antidote. The faster a poisoning is diagnosed, the easier, less expensive and safer it is to treat your pet.

Most homes have hidden dangers in medicine cabinets, purses, kitchens and garages. Pet owners should familiarize themselves with things poisonous to dogs and cats, and keep them stowed out of reach.

According to the Pet Poison Helpline, here are the top 10 most common toxins to dogs and cats that they get calls about:

Top 10 Toxins for Dogs

1) Chocolate – theobromine is the ingredient in chocolate that makes it toxic. It is a relative of caffeine and can be deadly. Dark and bakers chocolate is the most dangerous as it contains high amounts.

2) Mouse and rat poisons – most of these poisons do not have antidotes and can be difficult to treat. There can also be risk associated with your pet ingesting dead rodents that were poisoned by rodenticides.

3) Vitamins and minerals – while many can be fairly safe such as Vitamin C and K, some such as iron, Vitamin D and alpha-lipoic acid can be highly toxic.

4) Human and veterinary pain relievers – human medications such as Ibuprofen and Naproxen can cause serious life threatening symptoms. Giving a higher or more frequent dose of a prescribed veterinary pain reliever can also cause problems.

5) Heart medications – ace inhibitors and beta-blockers can cause decreased blood pressure and slowed heart rate. At certain levels some of these medications can produce these effects at a life-threatening level.

6) Cold and allergy medications – human medications like Claritin-D, Tylenol Cold and Flu, etc. that contain pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine can cause symptoms ranging from vomiting to seizures and sometimes even death.

7) Antidepressants – these medications, especially the ones classed SSRI, can cause symptoms including lethargy, tremors, fever and seizures.

8) Xylitol – a sweetener frequently used in products ranging from gum to toothpaste to candy can cause a life-threatening drop in blood sugar along with organ damage.

9) Acetaminophen – Tylenol products can cause symptoms from lethargy to jaundiced (yellowed) skin, which is a sign of liver failure, can occur.

10) Caffeine – whether ingested as tablets, in coffee grounds or tea bags, caffeine can be extremely dangerous in large quantities.

Top 10 Toxins for Cats

1) Topical spot-on insecticides – topical flea and tick medications made for dogs can contain pyrethrins or pyrethroids which are lethal to cats. Cats can come into contact with these chemicals when a dog insecticide is mistakenly applied or they lick the medication off a dog.

2) Household cleaners – even excess residue left on a surface can be dangerous. These chemicals can cause symptoms from drooling or difficulty breathing to chemical burns.

3) Antidepressants – some of these medications contain a smell or flavor that seems to be appealing to cats. They can cause lethargy and vomiting or even seizures.

4) Lilies – Even a very small amount of two or three petals or leaves from a lily can result in severe, irreversible kidney failure.

5) Other poisonous plants – included are tulips, daffodils, poinsettia, Christmas trees, mistletoe and holly. Symptoms range from drooling, vomiting and diarrhea to tremors and seizures.

6) Human and veterinary NSAIDS – non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Aspirin, Naproxen or Ibuprofen can result in severe kidney failure.

7) Cold and flu medications – human medications containing pseudoephedrine and phenylephrine like Tylenol Cold and Flu, etc. can cause symptoms ranging from vomiting to seizures and sometimes even death.

8) Glow sticks – these contain dibutyl phthalate which is very bitter tasting. One bite of a glow stick can result in profuse drooling, gagging and vomiting and also irritation to the mouth, skin and eyes.

9) ADD/ADHD medications/amphetamines – even small amounts ingested can cause life-threatening seizures and heart problems.

10) Mouse and rat poison – most of these poisons do not have antidotes and can be difficult to treat. There can also be risk associated with your pet ingesting dead rodents that were poisoned by rodenticides.

If you know, or even just suspect, that your pet may have gotten into something, you can obtain helpful information at the Pet Poison Helpline website or by calling their telephone helpline at 800-213-6680.

…stay tuned for How to Make a Pet First Aid Kit coming soon.

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