Pet Proof Your Home Common Pet Poisons and Toxins

Dogs and cats have unique body systems as compared to humans. They cannot breakdown the same medications as humans, and this can be deadly for pets.  Over the counter medications are intended for humans and can be poisonous for pets.

Acetaminophen: Animals are not able to metabolize (breakdown) Acetominophen (for example Tylenol), and this can be extremely poisonous for both dogs and cats.  Cats however, are uniquely sensitive to this medication and as little as a small piece can cause death. If this medication is given to dogs, it should be given under the direction of your Veterinarian.


Aspirin/ASA: This product is also very toxic for dogs and cats, and cats can bleed to death from this drug.


Some human foods are also poisonous to animals. Some of these include onions, grapes and chocolate.


Chocolate: Chocolate is extremely poisonous. It contains a product known as theobromine which can’t be digested by animals. The darker the chocolate, the more theobromine it contains, and the more poisonous it is.  Baking chocolate is the most poisonous. Chocolate poisoning can cause bradycardia (decreased heart rate), hyperactivity, nervousness, tachycardia (excess heart rate), vomiting, diarrhea, heart attack, seizures, coma and death.Your pet should never have any chocolate. Watch out for a brand of bark mulch which contains theobromine (a by product of chocolate processing), as this is also very toxic for dogs.


Onions: Onions are poisonous to animals, whether cooked, raw or dehydrated (Even onion powder). Animals eating Onions develop a special type of anemia (called Heinz body anemia) where the red blood cells are destroyed, and this can be deadly. Cat owners need to be especially concerned if they are feeding their sick cat baby food as some brands of baby food contain onion powder for flavouring, and even this small amount can cause poisoning and death.


Grapes: Grapes/raisins are poisonous to animals, and pets eating these can develop very serious kidney damage, and die.


Plants: There are lots of plants which can be poisonous. Some examples are Poinsettias, spider plants, holly, azaleas, buttercups, daisy, foxglove, lily, hydrangea, iris, oleander, tobacco. If your pet has a habit of eating plants, be careful of what you have in your house.


Antifreeze: Antifreeze/ethylene glycol-Antifreeze is very sweet tasting for animals. A small amount can be poisonous and can cause kidney failure and death in just a few days. If a cat or dog walks through a puddle of antifreeze and then licks its paws, it can ingest enough antifreeze to be poisoned. In the first few hours the pet may be depressed, uncoordinated, or even seem drunk and stagger about. Seizures may also occur. The pet may drink a lot of water, urinate large amounts and vomit. Later on as the kidneys fail, the pet may seem depressed, painful, continue to vomit and urinate small amounts or not at all. Antifreeze poisoning can be tested for by blood and urine samples, but the test is only useful for a short time after the pet drinks the antifreeze.Treatment for antifreeze poisoning must be started as soon as possible, even before the symptoms show. If you see your pet drinking antifreeze, or think that they may have, take your pet to a Veterinarian immediately. Once signs of kidney failure develop, most animals will die.


Metaldehyde: Metaldehyde/slug bait- Slug bait or slug poison contains a product Metaldehyde. It comes as a liquid or in flakes or pellets. Animals find it extremely tasty, but it's extremely poisonous. Pets which eat poisoned slugs, can also be poisoned themselves. Signs of poisoning happen soon after ingestion (1-4 hours later) and include muscle twitches, in-coordination (ataxia), sensitivity to external sound and light (hyperesthesia ), increased heart rate (tachycardia), increased body temperature (hyperthermia), and fast breathing (hyperpnea). There may also be unusual eye movements (nystagmus), stiffness (opisthotonos), and continuous seizures. Vomiting, diarrhea, excess salivation and difficulty breathing can also occur, and the pet eventually dies. If you see your pet eating slug poison, dead slugs, or think that they may have, take your pet to a Veterinarian immediately.


Strychnine: Strychnine is a poison often used for coyotes. Signs of Poisoning show usually within an hour, unless a lot of food in the pet’s belly which slows the poison down. At first the pet may seem nervous, tense, anxious or stiff.Seizures then start, and can be brought on by touch, loud sounds (like the clapping of hands) or sudden bright light. The animal may be so stiff that all 4 legs are extended like a stiff horse. The body temperature may rise from the seizures or stiffness. Eventually the seizures come more and more often. The gums and lips may appear bluish and the pupils become dilated or large. If left untreated, the animal dies from seizuring.


Rat Poison: Rat poison – dicoumarin – comes as pellets or powder. It causes bleeding, bruising.  Bruises may show all over the body, or mainly in the ears, mouth, skin or eyes. If left untreated, the animal will eventually bleed to death.


Flea and tick products: Over the counter flea and tick products can be poisonous if the animal is sensitive, young, old or weak. Be careful with these products especially if your pet grooms itself a lot as this will allow them to ingest the poison. Symptoms of poisoning vary depending on the product used. The pet may drool, tremble, become uncoordinated, blind, seizure, and die.


Non-stick cookware: Non-stick coated cooking pans can emit a vapour when heated to high temperatures which can be dangerous for birds.  Keep your feathered friends away from the kitchen when using these products.