You no doubt think your home is a safe haven, but did you know that harmful pet toxins can be found in your kitchen, medicine cabinet, and many other surprising areas? Our team at Belmont Animal Hospital wants to help by providing information on what substances are dangerous to your pet.
Pet poisons can be found in your kitchen
Many popular foods are toxic and dangerous for pets, especially those who tend to steal food off your plate. Foods to avoid include:
- Allium vegetables — These vegetables, including onions, chives, shallots, leeks, and garlic, contain N-propyl sulfide, a compound that breaks down red blood cells in pets, causing anemia. Recipes made with garlic and onion powder can also cause issues for your pet. Signs include lethargy, incoordination, pale mucous membranes, and red tinged urine.
- Chocolate — Many people have an affinity for chocolate, but the decadent treat can cause significant problems for your pet. Two ingredients, theobromine and caffeine, found in chocolate cause central nervous system stimulation. These substances are in highest concentrations in dark chocolate and baking chocolate, making them the most dangerous products. Signs include vomiting, diarrhea, restlessness, and excessive panting.
- Grapes — Grapes and raisins are nutritious, easy-to-eat finger foods, but they can cause kidney failure in dogs. Signs include decreased appetite, lethargy, and increased thirst and urination.
- Xylitol — This ingredient is used in many sugar-free products, and causes a dose-dependent insulin release in pets that leads to a drop in circulating glucose levels. Signs include weakness, incoordination, and seizures.
- Macadamia nuts — These popular nuts cause a syndrome in pets characterized by muscle weakness, lethargy, vomiting, and hyperthermia.
Pet poisons can be found in your medicine cabinet
Many over-the-counter and prescription medications are extremely toxic to pets.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) — NSAIDs (e.g., ibuprofen and naproxen) work by inhibiting cyclooxygenase to decrease inflammation. These enzymes also play a role in maintaining the normal function of the gastrointestinal tract, kidneys, liver, and blood clotting. Pets can develop serious stomach and intestinal ulcers, as well as kidney failure.
- Acetaminophen — One regular strength acetaminophen tablet is all that’s needed to cause significant red blood cell damage in cats, leading to signs such as drooling, vomiting, panting, and abdominal pain. In dogs, the drug typically causes liver damage, leading to decreased appetite, jaundice, and lethargy. In high doses, dogs may also experience red blood cell damage.
- Antidepressants — Prescription antidepressants can cause significant issues for pets. These drugs include tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Some medications may cause lethargy, ataxia, and vomiting, while others lead to restlessness and hyperactivity.
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medications — These drugs contain potent stimulants, such as amphetamines, and can cause tremors, seizures, dangerously elevated body temperatures, and heart problems.
Pet poisons can be found in your supply closet
Products found in your supply closet can be dangerous for your pet.
- Household items — Household products, such as paint, spackle, glue, and cleaning products, are toxic to pets.
- Rodenticide — All types of rodenticides are toxic to pets.
- Anticoagulants — Compounds that disrupt clotting function can cause pets to lose a dangerous amount of blood.
- Cholecalciferol — This product works by increasing calcium and phosphorus levels, resulting in acute kidney failure.
- Bromethalin — This product causes brain swelling that can lead to death.
- Zinc, calcium, and aluminum phosphides — These products cause phosphide gasses to accumulate in the abdominal cavity, causing severe abdominal pain and liver damage.
- Fertilizer — Fertilizers typically contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are dangerous for pets, and can cause ulcerations in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, if ingested. Signs include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.
- Insecticides — Organophosphates and carbamate insecticides inhibit enzymes in the body that disrupt neurotransmitter function. Carbamate insecticides cause seizures and respiratory arrest, and organophosphates cause muscle weakness and muscle twitching.
Pet poison reaction
If your pet ingests a poison, immediately contact Belmont Animal Hospital or Animal Poison Control. The veterinary professional you talk to will need to know your pet’s species, age, breed, and weight, as well as the toxin your pet ingested, and relevant information, so have the label in hand, if possible. Another important factor is the time your pet ingested the toxin. Once you have relayed this information, your instructions may include:
- Transport to an emergency clinic — You may be instructed to immediately transport your pet to an emergency clinic. If this occurs, ensure you bring the product label.
- Remove the toxin — If the toxin is on your pet’s fur or skin, you may be instructed to bathe your pet to remove the substance.
As an added perk, the microchip company we use—HomeAgain—includes 24-hour emergency support and poison control with an annual membership fee. We include the first year’s membership with every microchip we implant, and it’s $19.99 a year after that. We think having emergency support and pet poison control available to you at a moment’s notice is well worth this investment.
Pet poison prevention
You can take a few precautions to protect your pet from being poisoned.
- Garbage — Ensure your pet stays out of the garbage, so they can’t accidentally ingest toxic food. Keeping your garbage in sealed containers is the best way to keep them from dumpster diving.
- Countertops — Keep your counters clear of all food, including crumbs, so your pet can’t steal a bite.
- Household products — Keep medications and household products in a secure area inaccessible to your pet.
Your home contains many toxins, but taking precautions to keep these dangerous substances away from your pet will ensure they aren’t harmed. If your pet ingests a toxic substance, immediately contact our team at Belmont Animal Hospital for advice on how you should proceed.