Curiosity is what makes our pets cute and fun to watch. Dogs are especially good at sniffing out things to play with and eat. This curiosity also makes them more prone to poisonings which can be very serious, even life-threatening, if not caught quickly and treated by a veterinarian.
Some of the most common poisons in pets are things that are often easy to find at home. The fall season, especially Halloween, is one the most dangerous times for dogs and cats. Fall means yard clean-up and easy access to the garage where pets find rat poison and pesticides. Halloween candy can contain chocolate and xylitol, a pet toxin found in sugar-free candy. Keep in mind the most common poisons described below and do your best to “pet-proof” the house to keep your pets safe.
Common Pet Poisons:
- Chocolate– Dogs are very sensitive to a toxin in chocolate called methylxanthine. Dark chocolate is the most dangerous because of higher toxin levels. Even a small amount of dark chocolate or baker’s chocolate can make a pet very ill. The signs of chocolate poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea, agitation, irregular heart rhythms and even seizures.
- Grapes/raisins– Even a single grape or raisin can cause poisoning in a pet. These are extremely toxic to the kidneys and can cause complete kidney failure. Signs of kidney failure may not be evident for several days after ingestion but watch for vomiting, lethargy, increased thirst or urination.
- Sugar-Free Gum and Candy (Xylitol)– In dogs, the xylitol found in sugar-free gum and candy can cause low blood sugar, seizures and liver failure. At low doses, xylitol confuses the dog’s pancreas causing insulin to be released into the bloodstream. The insulin causes the blood sugar to drop to dangerous levels. At high doses, the xylitol causes severe liver damage. Even a half a piece of gum can be toxic to a small dog.
- Rat Poisons– The toxin found in rat poisons causes internal bleeding in pets. The toxin interferes with the blood clotting mechanism. Signs of poisoning may not occur for many days after ingestion. Even an ounce or two of the rat poison can cause severe illness and death in smaller dogs. If you think that your pet has ingested rat poison, call your veterinarian immediately. Bring the box of rat poison with so we can look at the ingredients and start treatment right away.
- Human medications– Dogs and cats often get into human medications. Sometimes, the medication has dropped on the floor by accident. Sometimes, people give pets human medications without realizing that it is toxic to their pets. Some of the more common toxic medications given to dogs and cats are pain medications like Tylenol and ibuprofen. It’s best to avoid using human medications, even over the counter medications, without consulting with your veterinarian first.
- Pesticides and Antifreeze– Many of the things we keep in the garage can be toxic to pets. Many pesticides cause the same effect in pets as they do in pests. Some are damaging to the central nervous system resulting in seizures, tremors and vomiting. Antifreeze poisoning causes kidney failure in pets after ingestion. If it is caught early enough, an antidote and fluids can minimize damage to the kidneys.
Preventing your pet from finding these common poisons is the best way to keep them safe. If you have questions or think your pet has been poisoned, please call Northwest Animal Hospital at 763-475-2448.