Poisonings and Your Pet

Many substances can be toxic to cats and dogs, even if eaten in very small quantities. We understand how important it is to rapidly recognise and treat the symptoms of poisoning. We have developed a state-of-the-art Poisons Pack as part of our 24-hour emergency care promise to ensure any toxicity is dealt with promptly and effectively.

Our Poisons Pack currently contains:

Name of treatment What it is used for
Apomorphine (Apometic©) To induce vomiting (thereby removing toxin from stomach contents)
Intralipid 20% To help counteract the effects of avermectins, commonly found in animal wormers, which can cause seizures and death if overdosed
European Viper Venom Antiserum An antidote to adder or other snake bites
Dehydrated alcohol To overcome the effects of poisoning with antifreeze (common in outdoor cats)
Acetylcysteine To help treat the symptoms of paracetamol poisoning. Note paracetamol should never be given to cats
Vitamin K1 Used to prevent bleeding caused by ingestion of rat poison
Naloxone To reverse the effects of opioid overdose (found in morphine, tramadol, codeine etc)
Activated charcoal To bind toxins and prevent absorption from the digestive tract

To help keep your pets safe we have also included a guide listing substances and foods that may be harmful to dogs and cats.

Common foods that are dangerous to dogs

  • Chocolate

Dogs like chocolate as much as we do! However chocolate contains theobromine which is a stimulant similar to caffeine. Darker chocolate contains more theobromine than white, so is therefore more poisonous. Signs of poisoning occur from 4-24 hours after ingestion and can include tremors, seizures and restless behavior as well as vomiting and diarrhoea. If you think your dog may have eaten chocolate, contact one of our vets as soon as possible. There is no specific treatment and in most cases, the most effective treatment is to make your dog vomit. It is therefore important to bring your dog in quickly to minimise the amount that is absorbed from the stomach. Some dogs will need to be given intravenous fluids (a drip) and medication to prevent tremors or seizures.

Stay safe and keep all chocolate away from pets, especially when left unattended!

  • Onions, Garlic, Leeks and Chives

We do not recommend feeding your pet leftovers– there may be an unknown quantity of these vegetables and herbs in sauces and toppings, especially in takeaway dishes.

The clinical signs of illness from these vegetables can occur several days after ingestion. Onions are the most toxic (even more so to cats) and cause red blood cell damage that leads to a severe anaemia.

  • Grapes and raisins

Grapes and raisins can cause kidney failure in dogs within 24- 48 hours after ingestion, although the actual toxic substance in grapes has yet to be identified. Remember that many cakes, scones and biscuits may contain raisins so if your pet has eaten accidentally eaten an unknown amount of these foods, we recommend contacting one of our vets as soon as possible. Often we will make your dog vomit to prevent absorption of these fruits and put your dog on intravenous fluids (a drip) to prevent any further kidney damage.

  • Xylitol

This artificial sweetner is found in many foods especially sugar-free chewing gums, drinks, diet foods and diabetic desserts. In dogs, xylitol acts on the brain like sugar and tricks the body to secrete insulin. This causes blood sugar levels to drop rapidly and can lead to a fatal hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar level). Clinical signs of this include weakness, wobbliness, disorientation, change in behavior and seizures. We recommend contacting one of our vets if you think your dog has eaten xylitol – signs can occur very rapidly and even very small amounts can be dangerous. We will make your dog vomit, if appropriate, to prevent further absorption of xylitol, start intravenous fluids (a drip) and monitor blood glucose levels.

  • Bones and corn on the cob

Although tempting to give these to your dog after a meal, beware that neither bones nor corn on the cob husks are digestible. We commonly have to perform surgery to remove these items from the stomach and intestines of dogs after they have become stuck and caused an obstruction.

If you have are concerned about an intestinal blockage, or your dog has any vomiting, diarrhoea or abdominal pain, contact one of our vets as soon as possible.

Common household items that are poisonous to cats

  • Pain medication

Paracetamol (found in Anadin, Calpol, Lemsip and many other brands) is extremely toxic to cats. If you feel that your cat is in pain, we do not recommend giving any household pain medications. Instead, contact your vet for advice. Paracetamol causes irreversible liver failure and blood vessel damage and unfortunately is usually fatal. Although an antidote is available, it must be given very quickly to prevent liver damage occurring. Contact one of our vets for advice immediately if your cat has ingested any paracetamol products.

  • Lily pollen

Lilies are popular and beautiful in many flower arrangements but the yellow pollen can cause acute kidney failure in cats. You may observe your cat licking the pollen from the flower or notice pollen staining on your cat’s fur, which your cat may have attempted to groom off. Contact one of our vets immediately if you suspect your cat may have ingested lily pollen. We will wash your cat to remove pollen and prevent further grooming and place your cat on intravenous fluids (a drip) to help prevent kidney damage.

If you have cats, it is probably safer just to say no to keeping lilies in your house!

  • Antifreeze

Ethylene glycol (antifreeze) is found in many household garages to use in car water tanks. It may be spilt onto the ground during car maintenance. Many brands of antifreeze taste very sweet so cats will lick it from puddles or groom it from their paws if they have walked through it. Initial signs to look for include vomiting and drooling but these are vague and easy to miss. After 24-48 hours the main signs of acute kidney failure develop including decreased appetite, vomiting and increased drinking. Unfortunately, the prognosis for many cats is very poor and antifreeze toxicity is often fatal. However, if veterinary advice is sought quickly, we may be able to give your cat the best chance of a full recovery.

If you use antifreeze products at home, make sure you wipe up any spills quickly and safely.

  • Permethrin (insecticide)

Permethrin is used in many dog spot-on treatments for fleas. However, it is extremely toxic to cats. Cats may become exposed either by accidental application of a dog-only product or by close contact with a recently treated dog. Signs of toxicity include twitching, tremoring, seizuring and drooling. Contact one of our vets immediately if you notice any of these signs. The prognosis for recovery for cats treated promptly is very good. We will normally wash your cat to remove the permethrin from their coat and hospitalise your cat to start anti-seizure medication. It can take several days for your cat to recover fully.

Always check the packet before you apply any medication to your cat.

Poisonings and Your Pet
Poisonings and Your Pet
Poisonings and Your Pet