Common Pet Poisons

ImageEvery year there are thousands of reported cases of pet poisoning in the UK, and many of these are caused by substances that seem perfectly harmless to owners. Just because something is safe for humans does not mean that it is safe for our pets and some of the most dangerous pet poisons are foods and medications that we take on a daily basis. Young pets especially can be curious about a lot of things around the house and experiment through tasting things. Cats who are usually very sensible about not eating odd things, will often ingest poisonous substances on their coats when grooming.

Symptoms of poisoning can range from mild stomach upsets to serious gastrointestinal and neurological problems, heart and respiratory distress, coma and even death.

 Poisonous Foods

Some foods can be highly toxic to our pets even in small quantities so think carefully before you give that treat. These are some of the most toxic foods for pets

  • Chocolate – certain types with high cocoa levels even in small quantities can be highly toxic
  • Raisins and Grapes – even small amounts of these can lead to kidney failure
  • Xylitol – this is a sweetener and is found in many products including gum and sweets
  • Avacados – these contain persin which can be toxic
  • Nuts – nuts (especially macadamia nuts) can cause vomiting and diarrhoea

 poison food

Human Medicines

Most of us have medicines stored somewhere in our home. Over the counter and prescription medicines meant for people can be highly toxic to our pets and you should never give your pet any medication that is meant for humans – if your pet is unwell or in pain seek veterinary advice immediately.

The most commonly reported medication poisonings are

  • Paracetamol – even a small dose can cause irreversible kidney and liver damage and death
  • Painkillers – cause stomach and intestinal ulcers and kidney failure (ibuprofen, Aspirin etc)
  • Antidepressants – can cause neurological problems, sedation, agitation and seizures
  • Cough and Cold Medicines – can cause severe liver failure


Flowers and Plants

Some flowers and plants can be highly toxic if ingested by pets and care should be taken when choosing plants for the house and garden. The most commonly reported poisonings are

  • Lilies – pollen from these plants is particularly toxic to cats and is usually ingested when they are grooming after brushing past the flowers. It can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, heart problems, kidney failure, convulsions and death.
  • Azaleas and Rhododendrons – contain toxins that can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, coma and death.
  • Tulip and Daffodil Bulbs – these can cause serious stomach problems and convulsions
  • Mistletoe, Holly and Poisetta – these Christmas plants can cause vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Ivy – the leaves and berries are particularly poisonous to rabbits and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures and paralysis

poison flowers

Other common poisons

Common household items can be poisonous to our pets and some don’t even have to be eaten as they can cause contact irritation just by being on the skin. These include

  • Rodenticides and Slug Bait – can cause breathing difficulties, internal bleeding and seizures.
  • Antifreeze – Has a sweet taste that pets like. It can cause hypothermia, breathing difficulties, seizures and kidney damage.
  • Dog Flea Products – contain permethrin which is highly toxic to cats, causing salivation, high temperature, uncontrollable seizures and death.
  • Household Cleaners – bleach, polich, detergents and disinfectants are irritants to the skin and highly toxic if ingested.
  • Decorating Materials – paint, varnish and white spirit are irritants to the skin and highly toxic if ingested.

sick pets in bed

Common symptoms of poisoning

There are many symptoms of poisoning to look out for in pets and they will vary depending on the type and amount of poison ingested.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Coughing
  • Excessive salivation/drooling
  • Blisters in the mouth
  • Irritation to foot pads and skin
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Trembling
  • Seizures/neurological signs
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Coma
  • Death

How to prevent accidental poisoning 

  • Keep all medicines out of reach – preferably locked in a cupboard.

  • Keep human and animal medications in separate places to avoid mix ups

  • Never give medicines intended for human use to animals.

  • Store cleaning, DIY and Car products safely and away from animals

  • Clean up any spillages immediately and thoroughly

  • Be careful what foods you give to animals as treats

  • Do not leave plant bulbs lying around where dogs can reach them before planting

  • Always follow guidelines for flea and tick products, make sure they are licensed for our pet and never ever be tempted to use a dog product on a cat.

  • Try to opt for ‘pet safe’ plants around the home.

  • Stamens can be cut out of lilies in the home to prevent cats coming into contact with the pollen.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something that may be poisonous you should contact your veterinary surgery immediately for advice and an appointment if necessary. If your pet has eaten some medication or a household product then the vet will want to see the packet in order confirm the ingredients.

You can contact Castle Vets Reading on 0118 9574488 for further advice

Vets Now are based at Castle Vets Reading and provide emergency veterinary care and advice outside our normal surgery hours. They can be contacted in an emergency on the above number or by calling them directly on 0118 9594007


One thought on “Common Pet Poisons

  1. Pingback: Pet Emergencies – What To Do | Castle Vets Reading

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