March 19-25 is National Poison Prevention Week. This week serves as a reminder to all pet owners to watch for both natural and processed pet toxins, especially as we prepare for spring cleaning and as plants start to poke their way through the snow.
Below is a list of the most common poison threats to your pets. These toxins are listed by their commonality, so watch especially for those highest on the lists. Keep this list handy to help keep your pet healthy year round.
Top Ten Cat Toxins
- Lilies: All plants in the lily family, if ingested, can cause kidney failure in cats. These plants are common, so be especially careful what types of plants you have accessible in your home.
- Household cleaners: Watch especially for concentrated products like toilet or drain cleaners, which can cause chemical burns.
- Flea and tick prevention products for dogs: Certain pyrethroid based products can cause tremors and seizures in cats and are potentially deadly if ingested.
- Antidepressants: According to Pet Age, cats seem strangely drawn to these medications. Keep them tightly sealed and out of reach, as they can have damaging neurological and cardiac effects on cats.
- NSAIDs: Drugs like Ibuprofen found in Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc are even more dangerous to cats than they are to dogs. Even those meant for pets should be used with caution.
- Prescription ADD/ADHD medication: Can cause tremors, seizures or other cardiac problems that could be fatal to cats.
- Over the counter cough, cold & allergy medicine: Those containing acetaminophen (like Tylenol) are particularly dangerous can do damage to red blood cells and cause liver failure.
- Insoluble Oxalate Plants: Other common household plants like the philodendron and pothos can cause oral irritation, foaming at the mouth and inflammation.
- Household Insecticides: Most sprays and powders are fairly safe, but it’s best to keep cats away until the product is fully dried or settled.
- Glow Sticks: Though these may seem like cute toys to cats, if punctured, the chemicals inside can cause pain and foaming at the mouth. If exposed to these, food and water are a safe remedy.
Top Ten Dog Toxins
- Chocolate: Dark and bakers chocolate are the worst, and milk chocolate in large amounts can also be dangerous.
- Xylitol (sugarless gum sweetener): Also found in some candies, medications and nasal sprays, this sweetener causes a fast drop in blood sugar and possible liver failure in dogs.
- NSAIDs: Drugs like Ibuprofen found in Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc. Dogs are not good a digesting these and the continued exposure can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.
- Over the counter cough, cold & allergy medicine: Particularly those containing acetaminophen or decongestants.
- Mouse and Rat Poison: Even small amounts may cause internal bleeding or swelling of the brain in dogs.
- Grapes & Raisins: May cause kidney damage.
- Insect bait stations: While these stations themselves are not poisonous to dogs, pets who are intrigued by the plastic casing and swallow it may experience obstruction in their bowels.
- Prescription ADD/ADHD medication:Can cause tremors, seizures or other cardiac problems that could be fatal to dogs.
- Glucosamine joint supplements: These can be extremely tasty for pets, and in excess can cause diarrhea or even liver failure in dogs.
- Silica gel packets & oxygen absorbers: While the gel packets found in new shoes or purses do not pose a significant threat, oxygen absorbers found in food packages, even pet treats, can cause iron poisoning.
Pet Poison Helpline online is a resource available for pet owners to learn what other poisons are out there and how to respond if your pet is exposed to something harmful. Should your pet be exposed to any of these or other toxins that are cause for concern, contact our office at (619) 422-6186 or the Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680.
By: Jagpal S. Deo, DVM